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Week in Review: Top Climate News for June 24-28

by Earth.Org Americas Europe Jun 30th 20234 mins
Week in Review: Top Climate News for June 24-28

This weekly round-up brings you key climate news from the past seven days, including a worrying report on deforestation trends in 2022, a controversial US Supreme Court decision, and Swiss referendum results.

1. Tropical Primary Forest Loss Up 10% in 2022 Despite International Pledges to End Deforestation

Tropical deforestation soared 10% in 2022 compared to the previous year, with an estimated loss of 4.1 million hectares – the equivalent of losing 11 football fields of forest per minute, a new study has found.

The new data, compiled by the University of Maryland and published by the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) Global Watch, comes nearly two years after 145 world leaders representing 85% of the world’s forests pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by the end of the decade at COP26 in Glasgow. They also vowed to invest US$19.2 billion worth of private and public funds in projects aimed at halting forest loss and restoring the planet’s green lungs.

At last year’s UN climate summit, COP27, most signatories of the Glasgow Declaration on Forest and Land Use renewed their commitment by launching the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), a voluntary partnership to accelerate momentum to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030.

Read more here.

2. Climate Change Made Southern US Heatwave Five Times More Likely, Scientists Say

A blistering heatwave roiling some southern US states, the latest in a series of extreme heat dome events that are bringing sweltering heat in various parts of the world, was made at least five times more likely by anthropogenic climate change, scientists have found.

Temperatures in the capital Houston and other cities across Texas surpassed 100F (38C) several times in recent weeks and are expected to remain above 100F for the next several days, as meteorologists warn that the heatwave is starting to expand to other states, including Kansas and Oklahoma.

“Human caused climate change made the extreme and extremely unusual temperatures in Mexico and the southern US much more likely,” said Dr. Andrew Pershing, vice president for science at Climate Central, the non-profit behind the recent analysis, adding that the elevated temperatures are creating “stressful conditions for millions of people.”

Read more here.

3. Swiss Voters Approve New Net-Zero Climate Law in Referendum

Almost 60% of Swiss voters have backed plans to reach net zero by 2050 in last week’s referendum, despite opposition from the country’s right-wing party.

Supporters argued that the law was required to ensure energy security and independence as well as address climate change. They pointed to the melting of glaciers in the Swiss Alps, which lost one-third of their volume between 2001 and 2022, as evidence of the need for climate action.

An earlier attempt to help Switzerland meet its climate goals in 2021 failed due to concerns over costs. The current law was developed in response to the Glacier Initiative, a proposal developed by climate activists to implement a total ban on all oil and gas consumption. The government disagreed with the ban and instead developed a counter-proposal covering elements from the initiative.

Read more here.

4. US Supreme Court Rules Against Navajo Nation in Water Rights Case

The largest Native American reservation in the United States has lost a key legal battle with the Biden administration over its access to a critical waterway.

The Navajo Nation had argued that the federal government is legally obligated to address the tribe’s water needs from the drought-stricken Colorado River, which serves about 40 million people in the arid Southwest US.

According to the tribe, an 1868 treaty promised them sufficient land and water to establish a “permanent home” after being confined to a reservation. Nowadays, however, many Navajo residents survive on just a fraction of the water used by the average American citizen, and about one-third of the 175,000 reservation residents lack access to running water.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) concluded that the treaty “does not require the United States to take those affirmative steps,” as conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh explained in a statement.

Read more here.

5. 2022 Spanish Heatwave Disproportionately Affected People With Disabilities, Study Finds

Spanish residents with disabilities faced increased difficulties during heatwaves in 2022, mainly due to a lack in government guidance, a new study has revealed.

The report, carried out by Human Rights Watch (HRW), included interviews with 33 people with disabilities in cities across Spain’s southernmost region Andalusia, such as the capital Seville and Córdoba.

Most of the interviewed subjects said they experienced negative effects on their physical health during last year’s record-breaking heatwaves, including brain fog, water retention, difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.

Subsequently, their mental health was also adversely affected. With extreme heat, people with disabilities are forced to stay home due to health concerns, amplifying feelings of loneliness and deprivation. A poor mental state aided by medication could make it difficult for their bodies to keep cool, further worsening their overall health.

Read more here.

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