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Week in Review: Top Climate News for July 10-14

by Earth.Org Americas Asia Global Commons Jul 14th 20234 mins
Week in Review: Top Climate News for July 10-14

This weekly round-up brings you key climate news from the past seven days, including a landmark law to protect the EU’s rapidly degrading habitats and a worrisome study on the presence of forever chemicals in US drinking water.

1. EU MEPs Approve Landmark Nature Restoration Law, Defeating Right-Wing Parties’ Veto Attempt

MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday approved the Nature Restoration Law, a landmark legal proposal to restore the EU’s rapidly degrading ecosystems and reverse habitats’ decline, despite strong political backlash from centre-right lawmakers.

The long-awaited law includes binding restoration targets for both land and marine habitats and species with an interim target to restore at least 20% of the European Union’s land and sea areas – including wetlands, forests, grasslands, rivers and lakes, rocky habitats, and dunes – by the end of the current decade and ultimately all degraded ecosystems by 2050. According to EU data, more than 80% of the bloc’s habitats are classified as being in poor health.

To reach the ambitious targets, the EU will adopt a long series of measures, including steps to cut pesticide use by 50%, protect green urban spaces and ensure at least 10% of green spaces in cities, as well as reverse the decline of severely endangered pollinator populations by 2030.

Read more here.

2. ‘Forever Chemicals’ Contaminate Half of US Drinking Water

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ are present in nearly half of all US tap water and about 70% of urban tap water sources, a new federal survey has found.

Released on Wednesday, the first-of-its-kind federal study assessed both private and public drinking water sources across the US to find proof of contamination from 32 types of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of more than 12,000 heat-resistant, oil-resistant, and water-resistant chemicals first introduced in the 1930s and found in hundreds of products including stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, makeup, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams.

According to the experts behind the survey, exposure to PFAS is a “global human-health concern”, as these chemicals – as opposed to other toxins – can stay in human bodies for years and affect almost every organ system, leading to severe diseases including cancers, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, digestive issues, liver damage, asthma, allergies, and reduced vaccine response in children.

Read more here.

3. Climate Change-Driven Extreme Flooding Kills Dozens in US, Asia

Heavy rainfall and storms have triggered extreme flooding in several regions across the world, killing and displacing hundreds of people and wreaking havoc on entire cities, as experts warn that storms are only expected to worsen as the planet warms – especially in countries that bear very little responsibility for pollution.

Dozens of people have died and millions have been displaced in recent weeks after torrential rain and extreme flooding hit Pakistan, India, Japan, China, and the northeastern US.

According to atmospheric scientists, the destructive flooding events that have wreaked havoc across the globe are a direct result of climate change, as storms like these typically form in warmer atmosphere, which holds more moisture and thus more rainfall. Additional warming is only going to make it worse.

Every 1C (1.8F) of additional warming equals to 7% more moisture in the atmosphere.

Read more here.

4. Climate Change Threatens $5.5bn Tuna Industry by Driving Populations to Deep-Sea Mining Sites: Study

Climate change will drive an increasing overlap between Pacific tuna fisheries and the deep-sea mining industry, leading to severe disruptions in the marine ecosystem, new research has suggested.

Scientists behind the new study published Tuesday in Nature used climate models to investigate the effects of climate change on tuna fisheries and the emerging deep-sea mining industry. They concluded that tuna distributions will increase in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean in the following decades. More specifically, the researchers discovered projected percentage increases in population for bigeyes (10-11%), skipjacks (30-31%), and yellowfins (23%).

The eruption of this heated debate comes after the expiration of a two-year consideration period for a controversial application made by the Pacific Island of Nauru to the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in July 2021. The island requested the first-ever commercial license for deep-sea mining, causing the ISA to put a two-year pause to consider the application.

Read more here.

5. MEPC 80: International Shipping Regulator Fails to Align with 1.5C Paris Agreement Temperature Goal

Last week’s 80th Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80) marked a critical moment for determining whether the shipping industry is able to keep the Paris Agreement goal of 1.5C alive and secure a just and equitable transition for the world’s most vulnerable countries. Shipping is responsible for about 3% of global greenhouse gases (GHG) and this is set to rise dramatically without significant intervention. Increasing demand for shipping services means that maritime emissions are accelerating faster than many other sectors.

Member States joined negotiations at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) headquarters in London with a view to setting out clear goals to revise its GHG Strategy.

To be a success, the revised GHG Strategy needed to include 1.5-aligned science-based emission targets for 2030 and 2040, and an agreement to phase out all GHG emissions by no later than 2050. Additionally, these targets needed to be set in a way that supports all nations, particularly those most vulnerable to climate change.

Read more here.

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