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Week in Review: Top Climate News for September 11-15

CRISIS - Biosystem Viability by Earth.Org Africa Americas Global Commons Sep 15th 20234 mins
Week in Review: Top Climate News for September 11-15

This weekly round-up brings you key climate news from the past seven days, including a disappointing end to the long-awaited G20 meeting, the devastation in Libya following torrential rains from Storm Daniel, and a new record for billion-dollar natural disasters in the US.

1. More than 5,000 Dead and 10,000 Still Missing After Torrential Rains From Storm Daniel Destroy Two Dams in Eastern Libya

More than 5,000 people are presumed dead after torrential rains from Mediterranean Storm Daniel caused two dams to collapse in northeastern Libya, further intensifying the water flow into regions already submerged by flooding.

Unprecedented floods have struck Libya after the storm – already dubbed the deadliest and costliest Mediterranean tropical-like cyclone ever recorded as well as the deadliest weather event of 2023 to date – made landfall on Sunday. Several cities were affected, including Al-Bayda, Al-Marj, Tobruk, Takenis, Al-Bayada, and Battah, as well as the eastern coast all the way to Benghazi.

The collapse of the dams in Derna, a port city of 125,000 inhabitants on the Mediterranean coast, unleashed monstrous torrents of water that destroyed bridges and washed away entire neighbourhoods. Ahmed Mismari, spokesperson for the Libyan National Armi (LNA), estimated that around 5,000-6,000 people were still missing in the city.

Read more here.

2. G20 Leaders Fail to Agree on Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Despite UN Deeming the Drawdown ‘Indispensable’ to Achieve Net Zero

In what many advocacy groups described as yet another missed opportunity, G20 leaders gathered in New Delhi over the weekend failed to address some of the most critical aspects of slowing down climate change, including setting a timeline to phase out planet-warming fossil fuels.

Leaders of the world’s most powerful economies, with the exception of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, gathered in New Delhi, India, for the highly anticipated G20 meeting. Together, G20 countries account for about 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite progress in renewable energy deployment and carbon capture technologies, the UN argues that current global finance for climate action is still less than a fifth of the estimated US$4 trillion annual investment in clean energy technology needed to fulfil the Paris Agreement. Previous analyses also showed that investments in fossil fuels are on the rise, with G20 countries alone spending a record $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel subsidies in 2022, more than double the pre-pandemic and pre-energy crisis levels of 2019.

Read more here.

3. US Sets Record For the Most Billion-Dollar Natural Disasters In Single Year

Between January and September 2023, the US has experienced 23 natural disasters that have cost at least $1 billion, breaking the precedent record set in 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Monday.

According to the report, billion-dollar extreme weather events this year included two flooding events, 18 severe storms, one tropical cyclone, one wildfire, and one winter storm event. Combined, these disasters claimed 253 lives and had “significant” economic repercussions on the impacted areas, with total costs exceeding $57 billion.

The figure does not include all major disasters as economic damages from some events are still being assessed. A notable absence from the list is Tropical Storm Hilary, a potent Category 4 hurricane that hit the Pacific Coast of Mexico, the Baja California Peninsula, and the Southwestern US United States last month, bringing record-breaking rainfall in four US states.

Read more here.

4. Red Fire Ants, Among World’s Costliest Invasive Species, Could Quickly Spread Through Europe, Researchers Warn After Finding Colonies in Southern Italy

The red fire ant, one of the most destructive invasive species in the world, has established in Italy and could rapidly spread elsewhere in Europe, bringing huge social, environmental, and economic repercussions, researchers warned.

The non-native species, also known by the scientific name Solenopsis invicta, has become established near the city of Syracuse in Sicily, where researchers identified 88 nests across 5 hectares (12 acres) in late 2022. Genetic analysis indicates the species could have come from China or the US.

The confirmation came in a study published in the scientific journal Current Biology and led by the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE), a joint centre of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), and the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). Researchers behind the analysis concluded that the species could potentially spread and establish in approximately 7% of Europe, where about half of urban areas have an ideal climate for the species to thrive. This, they warned, could have serious economic consequences on the continent.

Read more here.

5. Earth Is Entering a ‘Danger Zone’ As Six Of Nine Planetary Boundaries Already Past Safe Limit, Scientists Find

Human-driven activities have pushed the Earth into a precarious state for planetary health, according to recent research aiming to assess the extent of human impacts on the planet’s systems.

In the new study, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Science Advances, experts looked into so-called planetary boundaries, key processes essential for sustaining life on Earth. Each one has a limit as to how much pressure it can take from humanity before it is pushed over a tipping point in which changes can no longer be reversed. 

Fourteen years after establishing the framework of planetary boundaries, researchers at the Stockholm Resilience Center in Sweden found that six of the nine boundaries –  including biodiversity, climate change, land and freshwater impacts, biogeochemical cycles, and synthetic chemicals and substances such as microplastics – are already past their safe limit, placing the Earth “well outside of the safe operating space for humanity.” 

Read more here.

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