Tag Archives: climate

Unstable weather contributed to the fire in Oregon, which is now bigger than New York. Climate News

Authorities said the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon now covers an area of ??976 square kilometers and is largely uncontrolled.

Forecasters said that dry, unstable and windy conditions are expected to continue to fuel large-scale wildfires in Oregon, as firefighters are fighting a fire that is currently larger than New York City.

More than 2,100 firefighters once again tried to control the huge Bootleg fire that raged in southern Oregon, which borders California, and as the fire spread during the fourth intense summer heat wave, some were forced to retreat.

California, hit by its own wildfire, vowed to send firefighters to Oregon to help.

Preliminary review on Friday reveals the fire of piracy 67 houses and 117 outbuildings were destroyed Overnight in a county while forcing 2,000 people to evacuate. Fire spokesperson Holly Krake said another 5,000 buildings, including houses and smaller buildings in rural areas north of the California border, are also under threat.

She said that active flames are surging along the 322 kilometers (200 miles) of the fire site, and it is expected that by nightfall, the fire will merge with a smaller but equally explosive fire.

According to the InciWeb website, Bootleg Fire now has an area of ??976 square kilometers (377 square miles)-larger than the area of ??New York City-and still only controls 7%.

The official website said: “Due to hot, dry and breezy conditions, the fire is still very active and its area has increased significantly.”

“We are likely to continue to see fires grow over miles and miles of active lines of fire,” Clark said. “We continue to add thousands of acres of land every day, and every day has the potential, looking forward to the weekend, continue those three to four miles of running.”

Thick smoke from the Dixie fire burning along Route 70 in the Plumas National Forest in California on July 16 [Noah Berger/AP Photo]

The area issued a red flag weather warning on Saturday night.

Suzanne Flory, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service, told the Oregon newspaper: “We have experienced record high temperatures, and this is the worst possible scenario.”

In recent weeks, extreme heat and drought conditions have fueled wildfires in the western United States and Canada and pushed firefighting resources to the limit.

Canadian provincial authorities announced that Canada will bring in about 100 firefighters from Mexico to support their exhausted firefighters in northwestern Ontario.

Canadian officials expect high temperatures from Alberta to Ontario in the next few days-despite the record of 121 degrees Fahrenheit (49.6 degrees Celsius) set near Vancouver three weeks ago.

That heat wave Caused hundreds of deaths Authorities say that only in British Columbia.

At the same time, four provinces in western Canada issued air quality warnings.

Scientists say that without man-made climate change, the current heat wave is “almost impossible”.

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This post originally posted here usnews

Floods drive climate to the heart of the German election campaign

With just over two months to go until polling day, the devastating floods that swept through western Germany this week have catapulted climate change to the heart of the German election campaign.

Most of Germany’s political parties agreed that global warming was to blame for a catastrophe that left 103 people dead and visited destruction on towns and villages across two of the country’s most populous states.

That could prove of huge benefit to the Greens, who even before this week were set to make big gains in the September poll. Their strongest suit — a focus on climate change and on mobilising all the state’s resources to prevent it — has suddenly acquired a massive new urgency.

So far, they have studiously refrained from saying “told you so”. Robert Habeck, the party’s co-leader, did not visit the areas affected by the floods, telling Germany’s Spiegel magazine that “rubbernecking politicians just get in the way in such situations”.

“It’s forbidden to really campaign on a day like today,” he said on Thursday when the full extent of the damage emerged.

Floods in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler: most of Germany’s political parties agreed that global warming was to blame © Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

But it is clear that the new focus on the dangers of freak weather events and their links to a warming planet could deliver an important boost to the Greens’ candidate for chancellor, Annalena Baerbock. They could also distract attention from the mistakes that have so far beset her campaign.

The 40-year-old MP has been on the ropes recently over inaccuracies in her CV, alleged plagiarism in a book she published last month and delays in reporting extra party income to parliament.

“She definitely will be able to score points now with the [Greens’] competence in environmental and climate issues,” Karl-Rudolf Korte, a political scientist at the University of Duisburg-Essen told German TV. “It gives her a. whole new way to mobilise voters.”

Government spokeswoman Martina Fietz made clear that the authorities see climate change as the chief cause of the floods. “In principle, global warming leads to an increase in so-called extreme weather events like heatwaves, heavy rains and storms,” she said. In Germany, the average temperature had already risen by two degrees since records began, she said.

On the other hand, the new focus on climate could prove tricky for Armin Laschet, candidate for chancellor from the centre-right CDU/CSU. As governor of the North Rhine-Westphalia, home to some of Germany’s biggest companies, he strongly opposes parts of the Green agenda, saying they could endanger the country’s status as an industrial powerhouse.

Armin Laschet, candidate for chancellor from the centre-right CDU/CSU, opposes some of the Green agenda © Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty

On Thursday, he was caught on the back foot, losing patience with a TV interviewer when she asked him if Germany now needed to act more aggressively to stem the climate crisis. “Excuse me young lady, you don’t change your policies just because of a day like today,” he said.

Yet even he was insistent that Germany must now pick up the pace on climate. “We must move more quickly down the path towards carbon neutrality,” he said on Friday.

Laschet was also able to score an important point over his two rivals, Baerbock and Olaf Scholz, the finance minister and Social Democratic candidate for chancellor. They were on holiday when the floods struck: he was not, and he went quickly to visit some of the worst-affected areas.

Laschet promised compensation to those left homeless, expressed sympathy for the victims and their families and thanked the emergency services, in speeches that seemed calculated to show him as an effective crisis manager and “Landesvater”, or father of the nation.

Laschet could gain politically from the new sense of insecurity ushered in by the floods, Korte said. “We will have to expect new crises,” he said, “and we will have most trust in the people or parties who have the best ideas for protecting us from what may come.” That could benefit the CDU/CSU, which has governed Germany for 50 of the past 70 years, and harm Baerbock, who has no government experience.

Rubble following heavy rainfalls in Schuld. © Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters

If the floods end up having an impact on Germany’s election campaign, it won’t be the first time. Experts say the severe flooding of the river Elbe in August 2002 influenced the outcome of elections in that year and ensured victory for the Social Democratic chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

He rushed to the scene, donning rubber boots, wading through the mud, and later promising huge amounts of aid to the worst-hit areas. By contrast his rival Edmund Stoiber, candidate for the CDU/CSU, did not break off his holiday on the North Sea island of Juist and ended up losing.

“I didn’t want to campaign with this natural catastrophe,” Stoiber said later — though he ended up visiting the flooded areas anyway.

The weather has also influenced politics in more recent years. The long dry spell that Germany experienced in 2018, with little rain and fields and forests turning brown in the baking sun, boosted the popularity of the Greens and fired their relentless rise in the polls: by November 2018 they were at 22 per cent, up from 8.9 per cent in the 2017 Bundestag election.

Then in May 2019 they garnered 20.5 per cent in elections to the European Parliament — their best national result to date.

Though no one wants to make political hay out of a crisis, there will be some in the Greens privately hoping the impact of the 2018 heatwave could find an echo in the aftermath of the summer floods of 2021.

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This post originally posted here International homepage

Wildfires spreading across the western United States destroyed dozens of homes | Climate News

Firefighters have been fighting piracy fires in Oregon, north of the California border, for nearly a week.

In southeastern Oregon, firefighters have been scrambling to control a raging hell that spread for miles in a single day under windy conditions, one of them Countless wildfires Resources are in short supply west America’s.

After the dangerous “fire cloud” began to collapse, the crew had to flee the line of fire late Thursday, threatening them with a strong downdraft and flying embers. A preliminary review on Friday revealed that the piracy fire destroyed 67 houses and 117 outbuildings in one county overnight. The authorities are still calculating losses in the second county, where the flames are as high as six kilometers (four miles) per day.

The fire has forced 2,000 people Evacuated and threatened Fire spokesperson Holly Krake said that in the rural area north of the California border, there are 5,000 buildings, including houses and smaller buildings. She said that active flames are surging along the 322 kilometers (200 miles) of the fire site, and it is expected that by nightfall, the fire will merge with a smaller but equally explosive fire.

Bootleg Fire now has an area of ??194 square kilometers (75 square miles), which is larger than New York City, and most of it is not under control.

On July 14, 2021, a hot spot erupted on the northeast side of the Bootleg fire near the Sprague River in Oregon [Nathan Howard/AP Photo]

“We are likely to continue to see fires grow over miles and miles of active lines of fire,” Clark said. “We continue to add thousands of acres of land every day, and every day has the potential, looking forward to the weekend, continue those three to four miles of running.”

The hellfire hampered firefighters for a week with unstable winds and extremely dangerous fire behavior, including ominous fire clouds formed by overheated air rising to a height of 10 kilometers (6 miles) above the flame.

“We expect these exact same conditions to continue and worsen until the weekend,” Clark said of the clouds caused by the fire.

Earlier, the fire had doubled almost every day, and strong winds on Thursday quickly pushed the fire again. Expect similar wind speeds of up to 48 kilometers per hour (30 mph) on Friday.

It is burning an area north of the California border, which has been Extreme drought, Like most of the western United States.

Extremely dry conditions and heat waves related to climate change have swept the area, making wildfires more difficult to extinguish. In the past 30 years, climate change has made the west warmer and drier, and will continue to make the weather more extreme, and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

The fire is most active on its northeast side, being blown by the south wind to the rural communities of Xiahu and Chunhu. Paisley, east of the fire, was also in danger. All towns are in Lake County, which is a remote lake and wildlife sanctuary with a total population of about 8,000 people.

In this photo provided by Bootleg Fire Incident Command, the Bootleg fire burned at night near Highway 34 in Southern Oregon on Thursday, July 15, 2021 [Jason Pettigrew/Bootleg Fire Incident Command via AP]

The Bootleg fire is one of at least a dozen fires in Washington, Oregon, and California, as a wildfire siege engulfed the drought-stricken west. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 70 active fires and multiple fires in the United States, which have burned nearly 4,297 square kilometers (1,659 square miles).

In the Pacific Northwest, firefighters said they faced a situation that was more typical in late summer or fall than in early July.

Approximately 200 firefighters are fighting the 44 square kilometer (17 square miles) Red Apple fire near Wenatchee, Washington, famous for its apples, but it is almost beyond control. Officials said the flame threatened the apple orchard and a substation, but no buildings were lost.

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This post originally posted here usnews

Climate, immigration, Medicare lead progressive highlights in Dems’ $3.5T budget plan

Senate Democrats’ $ 3.5 trillion spending package will unleash a gusher of hundreds of billions of dollars for progressive priorities, from climate programs to an expansion of Medicare to promised green cards for some undocumented immigrants, according to new details released on Wednesday.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Budget Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a moderate on the budget panel, briefed the rest of the Democratic caucus during lunch with President Joe Biden in the Capitol on Wednesday. They discussed some of the biggest components of the planned spending bill that Democrats aim to pass without Republican support using the budget process. That filibuster-proof process starts with a budget resolution, which Senate Democrats have agreed to set at a ceiling of $ 3.5 trillion.

And while that resolution’s text is still forthcoming, once it arrives it will have few specifics of how Democrats will turn Biden’s priorities into legislation. That makes the policy highlights unveiled Wednesday, as vague as they are, a meaningful spotlight on the scope of the party’s spending ambitions, which would be financed by a shaky combination of tax reform, health savings like lowering prescription drug costs, and the assumption of long-term economic growth.

“Let me be clear — this is a huge bill. This is a complicated bill. This is a transformative bill,” Sanders told reporters after lunch. “In some cases, it doesn’t provide all the funding that I would like right now.”

But with 50 Democrats in the upper chamber and no votes to lose, “compromises have to be made,” Sanders said.

The proposal would expand Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing services for seniors. It would also fund health care for about 2 million people living in red states that have refused to expand Medicaid. Both provisions were major priorities for liberals, who had originally pushed for trillions of dollars more in a total package.

As promised, the plan will include key commitments from Biden’s “families” and “jobs” plans, including universal prekindergarten for 3- and 4-year-olds, child care subsidies and an increase in the maximum Pell Grant to defray college costs for lower-income students. Democratic leaders also intend to fulfill the president’s pledge to provide more nutrition assistance, paid family and medical leave, and affordable housing.

Democrats plan to use the package to extend the popular increase in the Child Tax Credit, which Congress boosted in March, to a maximum of $ 3,600 a year for children under 6 years old and $ 3,000 for older kids. The plan would also continue the current increase for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the tax break for child care costs.

Many Democrats have called for a permanent extension of the Child Tax Credit, which the IRS will start sending out in monthly payments on Thursday. But Senate Democrats aren’t yet specifying the length of the extension they want to provide, stressing that it depends on the cost of the bill and additional input from lawmakers.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who leads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, cited key wins during a call with reporters on Wednesday, including universal child care, paid leave and the Medicare expansion provisions.

“There isn’t a big area of our priorities that was left out,” she said. Still, progressives will be pushing for bigger investments in child and elder care.

“You can be assured, we are pushing for as much as we can possibly get,” Jayapal said.

The inclusion of immigration policy in Democrats’ still-unwritten party-line spending bill is another huge demand for both progressives and members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Both groups were relieved to see their issue included in the budget highlights, though they received few details. It’s also unclear if immigration reform will withstand the scrutiny of the Senate parliamentarian, the official who decides which provisions pass muster with the byzantine rules guiding the budget reconciliation process that governs the bill’s fate.

Progressives and Hispanic Caucus members have pushed for a pathway to citizenship for several key undocumented groups, including so-called Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. as children and “essential workers” during the pandemic, including farmworkers. But a senior Democratic aide confirmed only that the budget would include legal permanent residence for immigrants, without providing additional details — which may not be known for weeks.

The early approval that the budget blueprint won from the left wing of the party didn’t extend across the entire House Democratic caucus. Several moderates privately balked at the overall price tag, which they feared would require hefty tax hikes to pay for the package and fuel GOP attacks.

To help pay for the plan, Senate Democrats plan to beef up tax enforcement and raise corporate and international taxes. They are also seeking to hike rates on “high-income” individuals, but have yet to agree on exactly what income brackets would be hit and how much more those earners would pay.

Three kinds of tax hikes are off that table, however: increases on families making less than $ 400,000 a year, small businesses and family farms — a sign that Democrats are leery of attacks casting them as “tax-and-spend” liberals.

On climate, Democrats plan to include a clean energy standard that would deliver 80 percent clean electricity by 2030. How to structure that standard in order to survive the arcane reconciliation rules remains unclear, although Democrats and environmental advocates have brainstormed a number of possible approaches.

The budget resolution would also spell out funding for clean energy and electric vehicles incentives, a civilian climate corps, a clean energy accelerator and programs to boost weatherization and electrification of buildings. Democrats are pledging to deliver on Biden’s promise to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent across the U.S. economy by 2030.

Democrats are also calling for “methane reduction” and “polluter import fees,” though it was not immediately clear what those policies would entail.

Some of the climate provisions are already giving Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) heartburn, however. After lunch with Biden, Manchin, a centrist whose vote will be critical to the budget’s success, said he’s concerned about fossil fuels getting short shrift in the final bill.

“I want to see more of the details,” he said.

Marianne LeVine, Jennifer Scholtes, Alice Miranda Ollstein and Rachel Roubein contributed to this report.

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This post originally posted here Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Extreme weather: Greenpeace warns of China climate risk

China’s key urban centres, including the capital Beijing and its most populous city, Shanghai, are expected to face hotter and longer summers, as well as wetter rainy months, a new Greenpeace study mapping extreme weather conditions due to climate change warned on Wednesday.

Greenpeace East Asia said the risk of extreme heat and rainfall is now highest in densely-populated city centres but is growing fast in communities that are becoming more urban on the outskirts of the country’s large cities.

That could mean more exposure to dangerous heatwaves for the elderly and those working outdoors as well as heavier flooding in cities such as Shanghai, Liu Junyan, the climate and energy project leader for Greenpeace in Beijing, said as he called on the authorities to adopt more effective measures to prepare for such conditions.

“Urban areas still don’t fully understand the variety of changes, and which ones will impact which areas and how, enough to be ready for them,” Liu told Al Jazeera.

The study found that Beijing is experiencing the “greatest increase” in average temperature, rising at a rate of 0.32 degrees Celsius (0.58 degrees Fahrenheit) every 10 years, with the frequency of heatwaves increasing “considerably” since 2000.

Factoring in the expected peak of global emissions around 2040, the increase in temperature in some parts of Beijing could exceed 2.6C (4.7F) by 2100, and summers would become longer by 28 days, the study added.

“For Beijing, we know this temperature rise will look like more days with temperatures at 35 degrees [Celcius] or hotter temperatures,” Liu said.

“Crucially, a 2.6-degree rise means more exposure to heatwaves. The elderly are at risk, as are people doing strenuous outdoor labour, like construction workers and delivery drivers.”

In February this year, the temperature shot up to 25.5C (78F) in some areas – the highest recorded during the winter season – according to several weather monitors and news reports.

Greenpeace said summers would also lengthen by between 24 and 28 days in Shanghai and to more than 40 days in the southern Guangdong province. Some parts of the Shanghai and Guangdong province would also experience a more than 25 percent rise in extreme rainfall, while the area’s northwest would experience more drought.

The Greenpeace warnings follow similar studies showing an increased risk in China from extreme heat related to climate change.

A July 2018 study published in the journal Nature Communications noted that the frequency and intensity of heatwaves observed in China have “increased significantly” during the last 50 years. It also warned that as many as 400 million people in northern China, including Beijing, could be affected by deadly heatwaves by 2100.

A December 2020 report published by The Lancet, a respected medical journal, said that heatwave-related mortality in China had risen “by a factor of four from 1990 to 2019, reaching 26,800 deaths in 2019.”

Highest polluters

On Monday, the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Cities said Beijing and Shanghai were among 23 Chinese cities in the top 25 urban hubs around the world that produce 52 percent of the climate-warming gases annually.

The list also includes Tokyo and Moscow. Cities in the US, Europe and Australia still lead in the list in per capita terms, although several Chinese cities such as Yinchuan and Dalian as well as Urumqi in Xinjiang also recorded per capita emissions approaching the level of developed nations, according to the authors from Sun Yat-sen University and a Guangdong province pollution monitor both in Guangzhou.

In September 2020, President Xi Jinping said China aimed for carbon dioxide emissions to peak before 2030 and net-zero emissions before 2060, as part of the country’s commitment to curb climate change.

The sprawling urban area of Guangzhou, on China’s southern coast. figured prominently in the Greenpeace East Asia study, which found that 73 of the 98 heat waves in the past 60 years in the area occurred after 1998.

Guangzhou’s average number of days with extreme heat (35C/95F or higher) has risen from 16.5 days per year to 23.7 days per year since then, it noted.

Elderly people use fans to cool themselves off in Beijing as summer began in 2019 [File: Fred Dufour/AFP]

The Greenpeace study predicted that the average temperature change for the southernmost areas of the Guangdong province would be up to 2C (35.6F), effectively extending summer by more than 40 days.

In May of this year, rising temperatures led to an electricity shortage in Guangdong, prompting local authorities to curb power usage, thus also affecting the productivity of the manufacturing sector.

“We were informed to stop production for two days a week, according to the electricity limitation policies,” a staff member surnamed Miao at a copper factory in the province told the state-run Global Times newspaper. As a result, the factory’s scheduled delivery dates were delayed.

From extreme heat to devastating floods

From extreme heat, Guangdong province is also predicted to face more intense flooding during rainy months. In the southeastern part of the province, where the city of Shenzhen is located, extreme rain would increase dramatically, with the hardest hit areas having more than 25 percent more extreme rainfall, Greenpeace said.

Similarly, Shanghai and its region, where the Yangtze Delta flows also face the dilemma of extreme rainfall leading to considerable flooding.

From 1961 to 2019, the average accumulated rainfall for the Shanghai Yangtze Delta was 1225.6 mm (48.3 inches). Although it has fluctuated over the years, Greenpeace said that it has been “steadily increasing” at an overall rate of 34.6 mm (1.4 inches) every 10 years.

The year with the highest rainfall was 2016, with 1666.9 mm (65.6 inches) of total accumulated rainfall.

According to Greenpeace, the cities of Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi, Changzhou, and Ningbo – cities that have the highest density in terms of population and economy – are particularly at risk of hazards from extreme rainfall.

An aerial photo shows the Yangtze River in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province during a extensive flood in July 2020 [File: Stringer/China Out via AFP]

“Flooding is already a serious problem in Shanghai, and we can expect more flooding in the future and more devastating impacts from floods,” said Liu.

In 2020, severe flooding affected many cities along the Yangtze River, Asia’s longest river. According to government data, more than 140 people were killed, 38 million others were affected and 28,000 homes destroyed in the worst flooding in the country in 30 years.

Other parts of China that have not historically experienced much flooding, like Hotan, also known as Hetian, in Xinjiang, were also hit, Liu noted.

The Shanghai metropolis and surrounding urbanising areas have also seen rising temperatures.

In Hangzhou just southwest of Shanghai, temperatures have reached 35C (95F) or above 429 times in the last 60 years, with 177 (41 percent of the total) occurring since 2001.

The highest recorded temperature at the Hangzhou Weather Station was 41.6C (106.88F) in 2013, followed by 41.3C Celcius (106.34F) in 2017.

Greenpeace’s Liu said big Chinese cities should anticipate and prepare for weather interruptions, adding there was a need for “scientific and systematic investigation” on the effect of climate change.

He also said that smaller cities, where extreme weather risk is growing the fastest, also need to be better prepared for different types of climate risks.

“Cities need comprehensive monitoring to develop early warning systems for vulnerable communities and vital infrastructure. The interface of science and policy will determine whether vulnerable communities can receive proper attention and care in the face of this risk,” Liu said.

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This post originally posted here Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

Norway Creates Global Climate Investment Fund to Cut Emissions in Developing Countries

coal-fired plant

AP Photo / Branden Camp

Described as a milestone by the government, the fund has sparked criticism from both left and right – for being “too little” and coming “too late”, as well as for being pointless, as the developing countries themselves invest heavily in coal.

The Norwegian government has announced it will establish a new climate fund to cut emissions in developing countries, in line with the Paris Agreement, in which rich countries pledged to annually contribute billions of dollars in aid to cover developing countries’ ever-increasing energy needs.

The new climate investment fund is expected to have NOK 10 billion ($ 1.1 billion) over the next five years and will be managed by Norfund, a private equity company established by the Norwegian parliament in 1997 and owned by the Foreign Ministry. The fund receives its investment capital from the state budget and its mission is to help developing countries fight poverty through supporting economic growth, employment and technology transfer.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg emphasised that this is not a “greenwashing” of Norwegian politics, which is a recurrent criticism of the liberal-conservative coalition among the opposition.

“No, this is a hot real answer to the Paris Agreement. We follow up on what we have committed to, which is to participate in financing in other countries. It is not a replacement for what we are going to do here at home, but an addition,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told national broadcaster NRK.

The new fund is expected to contribute to the global phasing out of coal production by 2040. As of now, up to 30 percent of global greenhouse emissions are estimated to stem from the use of coal plants.

“The need is enormous and will only increase in the future,” Prime Minister Solberg said.

Solberg encouraged investors to join the Climate Investment Fund when it becomes operational.

“To succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, especially in Asia, we must include other commercial capital,” Solberg underscored.

Development Aid Minister Dag-Inge Ulstein described the Climate Investment Fund as a “milestone in Norwegian development aid history”.

“We know that even if we give one percent to aid, the world’s aid funds alone will never solve global challenges such as climate change,” he emphasised.

CEO Tellef Thorleifsson in Norsund, stressed a great energy need in developing countries with strong growth.

“India alone is planning to develop new energy which will exceed all current consumption in the EU in the next 20 years,” he underscored. “Now we have a new, clear mandate to invest more in the markets where the climate effect will be greatest,” he said.

However, the fund sparked criticism from both left and right. According to the Socialist Left Party, the government is doing too little and too late. Its mouthpiece Kari Elisabeth Kaski demanded that an extra NOK 6 billion ($ 700 million) is earmarked each year.

By contrast, Helge Lurås, editor-in-chief of the news outlet Resett described the fund as “giving even more money abroad”. He dismissed the whole idea as pointless.

“While Norway subsidises so-called green energy, the countries themselves invest in coal power. China, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam plan to build 600 new coal power plants in the coming years. China alone accounts for more than half, 368 power plants,” Lurås concluded.

Author: Igor Kuznetsov
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Biden’s new Cold War with China will result in climate collapse, progressives warn

As a new Cold War takes shape between the U.S. and China, progressives fear the result will be a dramatically warming planet.

Over 40 progressive groups sent a letter to President Joe Biden and lawmakers on Wednesday urging them to prioritize cooperation with China on climate change and curb its confrontational approach over issues like Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong and forced detention of Uyghur Muslims.

It’s the latest salvo in the months-long drama between progressive Democrats who say cooperation on climate change should take precedence over competition with China, and moderates who think the administration can do both things at once. As the Biden administration solidifies its China strategy, and as anti-China legislation moves through Congress, this intra-Democratic tussle could define the U.S.-China relationship for years to come.

The progressive organizations, including the Sunrise Movement and the Union of Concerned Scientists, “call on the Biden administration and all members of Congress to eschew the dominant antagonistic approach to U.S.-China relations and instead prioritize multilateralism, diplomacy, and cooperation with China to address the existential threat that is the climate crisis,” their letter reads. “Nothing less than the future of our planet depends on ending the new Cold War between the United States and China.”

“To combat the climate crisis and build a global economy that works for everyday working people — in the U.S. and China alike — we must shift from competition to cooperation,” the groups continued.

Challenging China’s regional human rights abuses and aggressions is central to Biden’s foreign policy, while the struggle between American-style democracy and Chinese-style authoritarianism serves as his presidency’s animating idea. “It is clear, absolutely clear … that this is a battle between the utility of democracies in the 21st century and autocracies,” Biden told reporters in April.

The standoff has led to frosty relations between the world’s most powerful countries with no signs of thawing any time soon.

Progressives say Biden must quickly reverse the trend or risk failing on another of his priorities: ending climate change. “His entire climate change agenda could be at risk if his anti-China campaign continues and grows,” said Erik Sperling, the executive director of Just Foreign Policy, one of the groups that signed on to the letter.

It’s not the first time progressives railed against the administration’s China approach. In May, prominent left-leaning lawmakers and 60 activist groups called on the president not to turn China into the 21st century’s Soviet Union. “We need to distinguish between justified criticisms of the Chinese government’s human rights record and a Cold War mentality that uses China as a scapegoat for our own domestic problems and demonizes Chinese Americans,” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said at the time.

And last week, nearly 30 organizations pushed Speaker Nancy Pelosi to back a less confrontational version of anti-China legislation working its way through Congress.

The pressure isn’t letting up. “We need a strategic approach to China that prioritizes our national security and economic competitiveness while creating spaces for cooperation on climate change and other global issues. I would have an approach of competitive cooperation. It’s early to say on how the administration approach will develop,” said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a prominent Congressional progressive.

That puts Khanna and others at odds with moderate Democrats, such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who argue the Chinese government’s actions must face stiff resistance from the United States. “There should be little doubt that China and the Communist Party under Xi Jinping’s brand of hyper-nationalism is unlike any challenge America has ever faced,” he said in April.

But this newest letter is another progressive shot across the bow, and they want to let the president know his China approach is dooming the world. “It’s a colossal blunder,” said Basav Sen, the climate justice policy director at the Institute for Policy Studies.

The Biden administration has long claimed it could silo its climate cooperation and geopolitical competition with China. “Obviously we have serious differences with China,” John Kerry, the president’s special envoy for climate change, told reporters in January. “Those issues will never be traded for anything that has to do with climate. That’s not going to happen.” As evidence, they point to China’s participation during the US-led climate summit in April where Beijing vowed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce coal consumption.

Progressives aren’t convinced, as they already see the broader U.S.-China spat bleeding into the climate-change effort. In June, for example, the US banned the import of solar panel material from a Chinese company over forced labor allegations.

“Cooperation with China on climate doesn’t absolve China or the U.S.on human rights,” said Karen Orenstein, director of the climate and energy program at Friends of the Earth U.S. But those issues shouldn’t impact how strongly Washington tackles the global climate change problem in tandem with Beijing, she said. “The climate emergency requires cooperation.”

Author: Alexander Ward
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What is ‘degrowth’ and how can it fight climate change?

There’s no other way to put it—as climate change envelops more and more of our daily lives, we are going to have to change the way we live. That will mean prepping for weirder weather, shifting our diet, and using cleaner energy. But, a growing economic idea is also brewing: Could a slower-growing or stagnant economy be the key to combating climate change?

“With more economic growth, climate mitigation is more difficult to achieve, because with it comes increasing energy and material use, which in turn needs decarbonization,” says Lorenz T. Keyßer, an environmental systems and policy graduate student at ETH Zurich and author of a recent study in Nature on how the economy and climate are intertwined. “So this is like running up a downwards accelerating escalator.”

It’s no secret that most of the world’s biggest polluters tend to be those with the fastest-growing economies. And some experts argue that green growth—the idea that we can keep fostering a growing economy but, at the same time, lower emissions and use our resources more sustainably—could be the answer. A key part of green growth is what’s called “decoupling”—tearing apart that bond between more growth and more emissions. That’s a lot harder than it sounds. Studies upon studies have shown that decoupling our economies from emissions is a lot harder and happens a lot less than it seems.

“‘What these [studies] have shown is that green growth is not happening, or it’s happening in very few countries,” says Timothee Parrique, an ecological economist and author of a 2019 paper on green growth. 

Some countries have shown a bit of success in terms of green growth and decoupling, such as the UK which is “lauded to have achieved the fastest experience of decoupling on Earth,” Parrique says. But even success is complicated, and it’s not happening nearly at a quick enough rate to comply with the Paris Agreement.

So, where does that leave countries with big, growing economies? Ecological economists argue there is a way for these nations to lower their environmental footprint while maintaining the wellbeing of their residents. Dubbed degrowth, it’s a concept of planned and thought-through reduction of energy consumption and natural resources use in big-emitting countries, by-and-by slowing down the growth of the economies. Keyßer’s study, published in Nature in May of 2021, found that degrowth is likely essential to keep climate change limits under 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

While there is still a lot of debate about how degrowth compares to our current economic system as a plan for the future, here’s a breakdown of what the once-fringe idea means for the future—and for you. 

Degrowth, explained

Degrowth, at its essence, is an alternative to capitalism, Parrique says. But what it absolutely is not, he says, is a planned recession on purpose. Not only does pausing economies for a moment do pretty little for the climate crisis (look how ineffective COVID-19 was at reducing emissions long-term), but it also hits the poorest and most vulnerable people first. 

Parrique says to picture economies like people with metabolisms—when you’re young, you need to eat lots of food, and as a result, produce lots of waste, to get big and strong. But if you keep eating like a rapidly-growing human well into adulthood, that’s probably not the healthiest way to be. As an adult, it makes more sense to balance out your diet for sustaining your body’s current needs. 

[Related: What companies really mean when they say they’re ‘net-zero.’]

For big economies like the US, Parrique says, the economy has been a grown-up for quite some time, and yet it’s still eating a whole lot. So not only are there some serious issues with the economy (income inequality, an overworked workforce, rising costs-of-living without rising pay), it’s eating into resources way more than necessary and literally running out of places to put the waste. 

But a recession won’t solve these issues, and might even create new ones. A recession is like a crash diet—trying to eat so few calories that the second it’s over, you’re back to unhealthy habits, sometimes at an even more intense level than before. Degrowth, on the other hand, is like finding that sustainable, healthy diet, and sticking to it.

Is that possible? While it may seem weird to think about a world where GDP growth isn’t super relevant, Parrique adds that economic growth has only been at the forefront of our minds as a positive measure since the 50s and 60s after World War II.

“We’ve had one hundred years of a very strange obsession with GDP numbers, and now we need to realize perhaps we went a bit too far,” he says. 

Jason Hickel, an economic anthropologist at the London School of Economics, adds that degrowth doesn’t have to be applied to everything all at once. After all, there are certain economies—like renewable energy and public transit—that need to keep growing for a healthy, sustainable future. But the industries for private jets, industrial beef, fast fashion, and gas-guzzling automobiles can slow down, he says. 

“There are huge chunks of our economy that exist exclusively to pump up corporate profits and elite consumption and are totally irrelevant to human well-being,” Hickel says. “Ecological economists call for us to abandon growth as an objective, reduce inequality and reorganize the economy around improving livelihoods and well-being rather than around capital accumulation.”

So, what about innovation?

In stories about the climate crisis, you may often bump into the idea of future innovations that will save us all—perhaps by making processes more efficient so we can keep our lifestyles pretty much the same but still avoid the worst of climate change impacts. But if you look around at the world today, climate change isn’t some looming idea—it’s happening in the US and everywhere else in the world at rates that are challenging our infrastructure, food systems, and more.

Innovations have been one of the main components for sticking with green growth over the past few decades, Parrique says, which is more or less business as usual. In reality, for every “eco-innovation” that comes along, even more patents are being filed for traditional, or extractive technologies. 

[Related: John Kerry got slammed for a statement on carbon cutting tech. Is he right?]

But, degrowth doesn’t mean halting innovation. Rather, it means regulating what resources and emissions we use.  If sustainability were broken down into two components—sufficiency and efficiency—degrowth is one way to make sure we are sufficient on the resources we have, while still working towards efficiency in the sectors that need it, he says.

“The less energy we use, the easier it is to decarbonize,” Hickel adds. “So the idea is to scale down unnecessary forms of production and consumption to reduce our energy use, thus making it possible to reach zero emissions much more quickly.”

What would a degrowth economy mean for you?

One of the negative reactions to degrowth is the idea of sacrifice, Parrique says. But in reality, unless you’re one of the richest people on earth, a more democratized, balanced economic diet will likely be a positive thing for you.

Think of it like a buffet—for a while, the big guys have been consuming more food than they need. But in a degrowth scenario, hungry, still-growing economies can access what they need from the table while the big economies can munch on just enough to keep healthy and happy. So, for the little guys, whether that be developing nations or even people in big countries with lower incomes, that means a heavier plate of food.

Considering the richest 10 percent of the world accounted for 52 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions pushed into the atmosphere between 1990 and 2015, these folks are going to have to fly less, consume less, and in general completely switch around their lifestyles. But for the rest of the world, especially the lowest-income communities, more access leads to more well-being on a personal and community level. 

Some countries have already committed to looking at well-being ahead of GDP as a factor of success—take Scotland, Iceland, and New Zealand. And even for high-income folks, there’s still a lot of debate around how much money buys happiness (some scientists have put that magic number of peak happiness income is around $ 75,000 but not everyone is on board), so perhaps instead of wondering how much money can you make, focus on what you need for your wellbeing. In that light, working less, for example, may be an opportunity—not an obstacle. 

“What are we really sacrificing?” Parrique says. “Rather, I think we have things to gain.”

Sara Kiley Watson

Sara Kiley Watsonis an assistant editor at PopSci. Her work has also been featured in NPR and Business Insider. Contact the author here.

Author: Sara Kiley Watson
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Unprecedented heat, hundreds dead and a town destroyed. This is the reality of climate change.

Lytton hit 49.6 degrees Celsius (121.3 degrees Fahrenheit), astounding for the town of just 250 people nestled in the mountains, where June maximum temperatures are usually around 25 degrees. This past week, however, its nights have been hotter than its days usually are, in a region where air conditioning is rare and homes are designed to retain heat.
Smoke rises from a fire at Long Loch and Derrickson Lake in Central Okanagan in Canada on June 30.
Now fires have turned much of Lytton to ash and forced its people, as well as hundreds around them, to flee.
Scientists have warned for decades that climate change will make heat waves more frequent and more intense. That is a reality now playing out in Canada, but also in many other parts of the northern hemisphere that are increasingly becoming uninhabitable.
Roads melted this week in America’s northwest, and residents in New York City were told not to use high-energy appliances, like washers and dryers — and painfully, even their air conditioners — for the sake of the power grid.
In Russia, Moscow reported its highest-ever June temperature of 34.8 degrees on June 23, and Siberian farmers are scrambling to save their crops from dying in an ongoing heat wave. Even in the Arctic Circle, temperatures soared into the 30s. The World Meteorological Organization is seeking to verify the highest-ever temperature north of the Arctic Circle since records there began, after a weather station in Siberia’s Verkhoyansk recorded a 38-degree day on June 20.
Visitors at Humayun's Tomb in New Delhi, India, on a hot day on June 30 amid a heatwave.
In India, tens of millions of people in the northwest were affected by heat waves. The Indian Meteorological Department on Wednesday classified the capital, New Delhi, and cities in its surrounds as experiencing “severe extreme heat,” with temperatures staying consistently in the 40s, more than 7 degrees higher than usual, it said. The heat, along with a late monsoon, is also making life difficult for farmers in areas like the state of Rajasthan.
And in Iraq, authorities announced a public holiday across several provinces for Thursday, including the capital Baghdad, because it was simply too hot to work or study, after temperatures surpassed 50 degrees and its electricity system collapsed.
Experts who spoke with CNN said it was difficult to pinpoint exactly how linked these weather events are, but it’s unlikely a coincidence that heat waves are hitting several parts of the northern hemisphere at the same time.
A man stands by fans spraying mist along a street in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, on June 30.
“The high pressure systems we’re seeing in Canada and the United States, all of these systems are driven by something called the jet stream — a band of very strong winds that sits way above our heads, at about 30,000 feet where the planes fly around,” Liz Bentley, Chief Executive at the UK’s Royal Meteorological Society, told CNN.
Bentley explained the configuration of the jet stream is preventing weather systems from moving efficiently along their normal west-to-east path.
“That jet stream has become wavy, and it’s got stuck in what we call an Omega block, because it’s got the shape of the Greek letter Omega, and when it gets in that, it doesn’t move anywhere, it blocks it,” Bentley said. “So the high pressure that’s been building just gets stuck for days or weeks on end, and these Omegas appear in different parts of the northern hemisphere.”
In the US, the same thing happened in mid-June in the Southwest, breaking records in Mexico and places like Phoenix in Arizona. A couple weeks later, a dome of high pressure built over the Northwest, toppling records in Washington, Oregon and southwest Canada.
“So we’ve seen these unprecedented temperatures — records being broken not just by a few degrees, being absolutely smashed,” Bentley said.

Scientist says this could happen every year by 2100

There is a growing acceptance among some political leaders that climate change is a driving force behind fueling many extreme weather events, particularly for heat waves and storms.
“Climate change is driving the dangerous confluence of extreme heat and prolonged drought,” US President Joe Biden said Wednesday. “We’re seeing wildfires of greater intensity that move with more speed and last well beyond traditional months, traditional months of the fire season.”
Scientists are working on sophisticated tools that can rapidly assess just how much climate change may have contributed to a particular weather event.
“We carried out a quick attribution study to get some fast answers to ‘What is the role of climate change?'” said UK Met Office meteorologist, Nikos Christidis, who has been developing simulations to carry out such analysis.
“We found that without human influence, it would be almost impossible to hit a new record and such a hot June in the region,” he said, referring to an area including those affected in Canada and the US.
Christidis said in the past, without human-caused climate change, extreme heat in the Northwest US or Southwest Canada would have occurred “once every tens of thousands of years.” Presently, it can occur every 15 years or so, Christidis said.
And if greenhouse gas emissions continue? Christidis said as often as every year or two by the turn of the century.
Several countries, including the US, United Kingdom and those in the European Union, recently increased their commitments — some by a long way — but many scientists and activists say they still don’t go far enough to keep global average temperatures within 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. World leaders pledged in the 2015 Paris Agreement to aim for this limit in order to stave off the more most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
Climate groups have also urged Canada to increase its commitments and wean itself off oil and gas.
“This is literally the deadliest weather on record for the US Pacific Northwest and far southwest Canada region. The losses and the despair as a result of the extreme heat and devastating fires in Canada are a reminder of what’s yet come as this climate crisis intensifies,” said Eddy Pérez, Climate Action Network Canada’s manager for international climate diplomacy.
“Canada is experiencing historic climate-induced losses and damages while at the same time not doing its fair share to combat dangerous climate change. As an oil and gas producer, Canada is still considering the expansion of fossil fuels which is directly attributed to the global temperature rise.”

Author: Angela Dewan, CNN
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G7 Nations Take Aggressive Climate Action, But Hold Back on Coal

BRUSSELS — President Biden joined with leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations on Sunday to take action aimed at holding down global temperatures, but failed to set a firm end date on the burning of coal, which is a primary contributor to global warming.

Mr. Biden and six other leaders of the Group of 7 nations promised to cut collective emissions in half by 2030 and to try to stem the rapid extinction of animals and plants, calling it an “equally important existential threat.” They agreed that by next year they would stop international funding for any coal project that lacked technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions and vowed to achieve an “overwhelmingly decarbonized” electricity sector by the end of the decade.

It was the first time that the major industrialized economies, which are most responsible for the pollution that is warming the planet, agreed to collectively slash their emissions by 2030, although several nations had individually set those same goals, including the United States and the United Kingdom.

But energy experts said the failure of the G7 nations, which together produce about a quarter of the world’s climate pollution, to agree on a specific end date for the use of coal weakened their ability to lean on China to curb its own still-growing coal use. It may also make it more difficult to convince 200 nations to strike a bold climate agreement at a United Nations summit in Scotland later this year.

The G7 leaders also declined to pledge significant new funding to help developing countries both manage climate impacts as well as pivot away from burning oil, gas and coal.

“It’s very disappointing,” said Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International. “This was a moment when the G7 could have shown historic leadership, and instead they left a massive void.”

Scientists have warned that the world needs to urgently cut emissions if it has any chance to keep average global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels. That’s the threshold beyond which experts say the planet will experience catastrophic, irreversible damage. Temperature change is not even around the globe; some regions have already reached an increase of 2 degrees Celsius.

Mr. Biden opened his first foreign trip as president last week by declaring that on issues like climate, “the United States is back.” After four years in which President Donald J. Trump mocked the established science of climate change, discouraged the development of clean energy while favoring fossil fuels and refused to cooperate with allies on environmental issues, Mr. Biden was once again part of a unanimous consensus that the world needs to take drastic action to prevent a global disaster.

“President Biden has committed to tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad, rallying the rest of the world at the leaders summit, G7, and beyond to reach for bold targets within the next decade,” said Daleep Singh, deputy national security adviser. “While the previous administration ignored the science and consequences of climate change, our administration has taken unprecedented actions to prioritize this on the global stage.”

In addition to rejoining the 2015 Paris Agreement that Mr. Trump abandoned, Mr. Biden has promised to cut the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, and to eliminate fossil fuel emissions from America’s power sector by 2035.

But it was the United Kingdom, along with some other European countries, that had pushed aggressively during the summit this year to stop burning coal for electricity by a specific date in the 2030s. Burning coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, and after a pandemic-year retreat, demand for coal is expected to rise by 4.5 percent this year, according to the International Energy Agency.

Instead, the final language of the leaders’ “communiqué” makes only a vague call to “rapidly scale up technologies and policies that further accelerate the transition away” from coal without carbon capture technology.

The debate at the summit over how quickly to abandon coal came at a particularly delicate moment for Mr. Biden, whose push for a major infrastructure package in a closely divided Congress may depend on the vote of one Democratic senator: Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia.

In a statement to The New York Times, Mr. Manchin noted “projections showing that fossil fuels, including coal, will be part of the global energy mix for decades to come” and praised the Biden administration for recognizing the need to develop clean energy technologies. But advocates for faster action said concerns about placating Mr. Manchin appeared to have prevented more aggressive steps.

“Once again Joe Manchin is casting a heavy shadow,” said Alden Meyer, a senior associate at E3G, a European environmental think tank.

The United States in particular had a chance to lead countries in strong language to move away from fossil fuels this decade, Ms. Morgan of Greenpeace said. But “it doesn’t seem like they were the ambition setters at this G7.”

Other leading climate change advocates and diplomats called the overall climate package a mixed bag.

Mr. Biden and the other leaders said they would deliver $ 2 billion to help nations pivot away from fossil fuels, in what leaders hope will be a global transition to wind, solar and other energy that does not produce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. And they agreed to raise their contributions and meet an overdue pledge of mobilizing $ 100 billion a year to help poorer countries cut emissions and cope with the consequences of climate change, though firm dollar figures were not on the table.

Laurence Tubiana, C.E.O. of the European Climate Foundation who served as France’s chief climate ambassador during the 2015 Paris negotiations, said she was pleased that nations would stop financing new coal projects without technology to capture and store emissions. It will mean an end to virtually all funding for new coal, since carbon capture technology is nascent and not widely used.

“That leaves China to decide now if they want to still be the backers of coal globally, because they will be the only one,” she said. But she said the financing package was lacking for developing countries, which are particularly vulnerable to floods, drought and other impacts of a climate crisis created by the industrialized nations.

G7 nations this week also backed Mr. Biden’s sweeping infrastructure plan to counter China’s multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative. As part of that, countries promised to help the developing world rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic in a way that takes climate change into account.

Wealthy nations had agreed in 2009 to mobilize $ 100 billion in public and private funding by 2020 in order to help poorer countries move to clean energy and adapt to the most severe consequences of climate change. But they have delivered only about $ 80 billion on that promise, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. And most of that money is in the form of loans, not grants, making it difficult for poor countries to use, experts said.

“The G7 announcement on climate finance is really peanuts in the face of an existential catastrophe,” said Malik Amin Aslam, Pakistan’s climate minister. He called it a “huge disappointment” for his country and others that have had to spend more to cope with extreme weather, displacement and other impacts of global warming.

“At the least, countries responsible for this inescapable crisis need to live up to their stated commitments, otherwise the climate negotiations could well end in futility,” he warned.

A recent report from the International Energy Agency concluded that if the world is to stave off the most devastating consequences of global warming, major economies must immediately stop approving new coal plants and oil and gas fields.

At the summit, the seven countries addressed biodiversity loss, calling it a crisis on the same scale as climate change.

They said they would champion a global push to conserve at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water by 2030 and would set up such protections within their own countries. These measures are needed, scientists say and the G7 reiterated, to help curb extinctions, ensure water and food security, store carbon and reduce the risk of future pandemics.

Today, about 17 percent of the planet’s land and 8 percent of its oceans are protected, according to the United Nations.

Environmental groups welcomed the inclusion of the 30 percent commitment but emphasized the need for action, which requires adequate financing. That’s the hard part, to be hammered out at a separate United Nations biodiversity conference that will be held in October in Kunming, China.

Because the world’s remaining intact ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots are unevenly distributed, scientists emphasize that it’s not enough for each country to carve out its own 30 percent. Rather, countries should work together to maximize the protection of areas that will yield the best returns on reversing the interdependent biodiversity and climate crises. Researchers have mapped suggestions.

The rights of local communities, including Indigenous peoples who have been better stewards of biodiversity, must be valued, advocates said. Protecting nature does not mean kicking people out, but rather ensuring that wild areas are used sustainably.

Robert Watson, a former chairman of two leading intergovernmental panels on climate change and biodiversity, praised the agreement for linking the two crises. But he said it needs to address the factors that are driving species loss, including agriculture, logging and mining.

“I do not see what actions will be taken to stop the causes,” Dr. Watson said.

Author: Michael D. Shear, Lisa Friedman and Catrin Einhorn
This post originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News