This weekly round-up brings you key climate news from the past seven days, including extreme weather events wreaking havoc on the US, Europe, and China, the UAE’s unambitious new climate agenda, and the resumption of climate talks between Beijing and Washington.
1. US and China Need More Time to ‘Break New Ground’ on Joint Climate Fight, Says US Climate Envoy John Kerry
The US and China failed to reach significant climate agreements despite four days of “productive” conversations that marked the resumption of key dialogues on climate strategies between the two biggest polluters in the world, US Climate Envoy John Kerry said on Wednesday.
Kerry’s first visit to Beijing since September 2021 – the first time he met with Xi Jinping’s new leadership team, including second-ranked official premier Li Qiang – came as the two economic superpowers agreed to resume stalled talks on climate change ahead of November’s COP28. Talks between Washington and Beijing were suspended following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan last year as well as the more recent discovery of a suspected Chinese spy balloon flying over the US.
Initial conversations focussed on integrating renewable power to scale down the use of coal, as Kerry warned that the world is “running out of time” to cut emissions and that “we have to be reducing coal faster.”
Read more here.
2. Russia Axes Grain Export Deal With Ukraine in Potential Blow to Global Food Security
A landmark deal that allowed grain exports from Ukraine to countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia has ended after Russia announced it would not renew its commitment, raising concerns about global food security and inflation.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey last year to ease a potential global food crisis resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict and bring down food prices after they skyrocketed following the invasion. Besides compromising global exports of agricultural products, the war resulted in a significant increase in food prices on global markets – particularly of grains.
The grain export deal created a safe shipping channel to allow Ukraine to export essential agricultural products to China, Spain, Turkey, and other countries around the world via the Black Sea. Since July 2022, more than 1,000 voyages have successfully left Ukrainian ports carrying nearly 33 million tons of products, including 16.9 million tonnes of corn and 8.9 million tonnes of wheat.
3. Temperatures Surpass 45C in China and US Amid Fierce Heatwaves
Situated thousands of miles apart, China and the US currently share one thing in common – the intensity of heatwaves. Both countries are experiencing record-breaking temperatures amid intense, climate change-fuelled heatwaves that have raised the alarm for public health, agriculture, and energy generation.
While heatwaves are a natural occurrence in the summer months in many parts of the world, climate change has resulted in tumultuous patterns by increasing their intensity and frequency, making them as abnormally fierce as the ones the world has learned to know in recent years experience today.
According to a 2023 study by the World Weather Attribution (WWA), climate change makes heatwaves at least 30 times more likely to occur in Asia.
Read more here.
4. Record-Breaking Heatwave Strikes Italy, Prompting Red Alert in 16 Cities
Italy is in the midst of a record-breaking heatwave which is expected to bring temperatures over 40C in several parts of the country this week. 16 cities including Rome, Florence, and Bologna are currently on red heat alert.
According to the country’s Ministry of Health, exceptionally high temperatures are expected on Monday across central and southern Italy, including Messina in Sicily, Catania in Sardinia, as well as the capital Rome and other central cities such as Firenze, Pescara, and Perugia.
According to experts, Italy’s deadly heatwave is the result of a combination of the anticyclone Cerberus, set to happen for two weeks across Southern Europe, and El Niño. Considering that Italy is surrounded by a large body of water that is experiencing immense El Niño effects, it comes as no surprise that the country has become one of the hottest in Europe this year.
Read more here.
5. COP28 Host UAE’s Climate Plan ‘Insufficient’ to Meet 1.5C Goal, Report Suggests
The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) strategy to curb emissions is “insufficient” despite COP28 host nation announcing a “new and stronger” climate plan earlier this month, a new report has found.
In a third update of its National Determined Contributions (NDCs) issued last week, the UAE set an “ambitious” target of reducing emissions by 40% by the end of the decade, up 9% from the previous target.
“Leading by example ahead of COP28, the UAE has enhanced its efforts to reduce emissions and developed the UAE Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative, which presents improved near-term targets for 2030, a target setting methodology change, and detailed policies,” the NDC reads.
The efforts outlined in the new UAE climate plan, however, are hailed “insufficient” by the non-profit Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which said CO2 emissions are expected to increase through to 2030 as the country plans to further increase fossil fuel production and consumption, at odds with the urgent decrease needed to curb global warming.
Read more here.