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Week in Review: Top Climate News for April 22-26, 2024

by Earth.Org Asia Europe Apr 26th 20244 mins
Week in Review: Top Climate News for April 22-26, 2024

This weekly round-up brings you key climate news from the past seven days, including an important step for the European Union and the release of two reports painting a grim picture of the state of the climate in Asia and Europe.

1. EU Votes to Leave Controversial Energy Treaty, Approves Watered Down Agricultural Policies

With 560 votes in favour and 43 against, MEPs on Wednesday overwhelmingly consented to the EU exiting the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), a multilateral agreement established in 1994 to facilitate trade and investment in the energy sector. Largely unchanged since its adoption, the treaty is now viewed by many as outdated and as favouring investments in fossil fuels that are no longer compatible with the EU’s climate targets under the European Green Deal and the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Speaking in November 2023, Belgian energy minister Tinne van der Straeten said, “We need treaties that serve our people and climate, not the fossil fuel industry.”

The Parliament also approved a series of weakened environmental requirements linked to the disbursement of tens of billions of euros in subsidies for European farmers.

In February, the European Commission announced it would delay a key agricultural policy originally intended to require all farmers to set aside 4% of their land to support biodiversity and promote healthy soil. Aside from exempting all farmers from the requirement, the Commission also said that farmers growing certain environmentally friendly crops on at least 7% of their arable land will be regarded as fulfilling the requirement. These include crops that contribute to nitrogen fixation – such as lentils, peas, and favas – as well as catch crops – quick-growing crops planted between the main crops that maximise land use while preventing soil erosion.

Read more here.

2. Heat-Related Mortality in Europe Up 30% in Past 20 Years, Report Reveals

The latest European State of the Climate report, compiled by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), paints a stark picture of the effects of global warming on the continent. 

According to the joint report, 2023 was Europe’s joint warmest or second-warmest year on record, depending on the dataset. The world’s fastest-warming continent saw above-average temperatures for 11 months last year and 7% more precipitation than average. September went down in history as the warmest on record, with temperatures 2.51C higher than the 1991-2020 average and 1.1C higher than the previous warmest September recorded in 2020.

Number of days that experienced ‘very strong heat stress’ (UTCI between 38 and 46°C) during June, July, August and September 2023.
Number of days that experienced ‘very strong heat stress’ (UTCI between 38 and 46°C) during June, July, August and September 2023. Data source: ERA5-HEAT. Image: C3S/ECMWF.

The continent experienced a record number of “extreme heat stress” days in 2023. C3S and WMO data also suggests that heat-related mortality in the continent, which is warming twice as fast as any other continent, has increased by around 30% in the past two decades, while heat-related deaths are estimated to have increased in 94% of the European regions monitored.

Snow was scarce in much of Europe in winter and spring, owing to a milder-than-average winter. The Alps experienced “exceptional” glacier ice loss, losing 10% of their remaining volume between 2022 and 2023.

Read more here.

3. ‘Sobering’ WMO Report Shows Asia Hit Hardest By Climate Change in 2023

According to the report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), temperatures in Asia were 0.91C above the 1991-2020 reference period last year, the second-highest on record. 2023 was also Japan and Kazakhstan’s warmest year. A marine heatwave also pushed sea surface temperatures in the Arctic Ocean to a record high. According to the report, regions such as the Arabian Sea, the southern Kara Sea, and the southeastern Laptev Sea are witnessing sea surface warming at a rate more than three times faster than the global average.

The report found that nearly half of all 984,263 climate and natural disaster-related deaths over the past five decades occurred in Asia, with tropical cyclones claiming the highest number of lives. In 2023 alone, Asia saw a total of 79 water hazard-related disasters, which resulted in more than 2,000 fatalities and directly affected 9 million people.

Read more here.

4. Letter to G20 Leaders Urges Financial Support to World Bank Fund to Achieve Global Sustainable Development

G20 leaders were urged to reform the global financial system and step up efforts to achieve global sustainable development and fight the climate crisis in an open letter published ahead of last week’s Spring meetings of international financial institutions.

In the letter, the 135 signatories, which include actor Stephen Fry, film producer Richard Curtis, and singer Annie Lennox, appealed to the world’s largest economies to “triple their investments in multilateral development banks, end crippling debt for low-income countries, and make polluters pay.

“Global financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF [International Monetary Fund] can help mobilise the funding needed to tackle the polycrisis and achieve the Global Goals, but they need a reboot. And their shareholders – the G20 leaders – are the ones that can make that happen,” the letter, coordinated by Project Everyone, read.

Read more here.

5. Extreme Heat, Heavy Rain Kill Hundreds in Thailand, East Africa

Thailand has been battling with extreme heat for days. The country’s northern and northeastern regions are expected to be the warmest until the end of the month, with the mercury hitting 44C in some areas, the Thai Meteorological Department said. Hail and thunderstorms may strike the two regions in the coming days, it added.

The number of heat-related casualties nationwide has reached 30 so far this year, compared to the 37 heat-related deaths recorded in the country in 2023, according to data by the Thai Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, East Africa has been battling heavy rains for the past month. In hard-hit Kenya, floods have killed 10 people this week, bringing the total death toll since last month to 45. In neighboring Tanzania, the death toll from heavy rains has reached 155, with 236 more injured, according to Kaasim Majaliwa, the country’s prime minister.

Read more here.

Tagged: week in review
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