This weekly round-up brings you key climate news from the past seven days, including new research on the connection between climate change and recent floods in the Mediterranean and the UK’s updated green agenda.
1. New York Climate Protests Set Tone for UN General Assembly As Thousands of Activists Call For Action on Global Warming
New York City was filled with passionate voices and a sense of urgency on Sunday as thousands of climate activists took to the streets to demand immediate action on the global climate crisis. The climate protests, which coincided with the opening of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, aimed to put pressure on world leaders to prioritise climate change on their agendas.
Organised by a coalition of environmental groups, the demonstrations brought together people from all walks of life, including students, scientists, indigenous communities, and concerned citizens. Chanting slogans and waving colourful banners, they marched through the streets of Manhattan, calling for bold and transformative measures to address the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges.
An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 protesters demanded that world leaders take decisive action to limit global warming to well below 1.5C, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. They emphasised the need for a rapid transition to renewable energy, the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems, and the phasing out of fossil fuels. The urgency of the situation was underscored by a recent alarming report warning that six of the nine planetary boundaries have already exceeded safe limits.
Read more here.
2. UK PM Sunak Waters Down Net Zero Goals, Delays Ban on New Petrol Cars and Gas Boilers
In one of his biggest policy u-turns since taking office almost a year ago, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined the country’s “new approach” to tackling climate change on Wednesday, sparking a backlash from other countries and green groups.
Speaking from London, Sunak announced he would push back a plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by five years to 2035, saying the decision would protect households struggling to pay bills. He also cited the need to improve the country’s electric grid and introduce more vehicle charging points.
The new green agenda also includes plan to delay the transition to heat pumps. Instead of phasing-out all gas boilers installations by 2035 as initially pledged, the UK now aims for an 80% phase-out instead. A 2026 ban on off-grid oil boilers would also be delayed to 2035, though with only an 80% phase-out target.
Lastly, Sunak said the UK would no longer require homeowners and landlords to face “expensive insulation upgrades” in order to meet stringent energy efficiency targets. According to a 2022 analysis by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, however, the average cost to heat a poorly insulated home in winter would be £1,000 (US$1,226) more on average.
Read more here.
3. Climate Change Made Libya Floods Up to 50 Times More Likely, Study Finds
This summer’s deadly floods in the Mediterranean region, including Greece, Turkey, and Libya, were made between ten and 50 times more likely and intense by climate change, researchers found.
Published Tuesday by the World Weather Attribution, the new study found a clear link between climate change and this summer’s extreme rainfall events in the Mediterranean region. The research team analysed historical rainfall data, climate models, and socioeconomic factors to understand the complex dynamics at play and utilised advanced statistical methods to attribute the observed changes in rainfall patterns to human-induced climate change.
Greece’s flooding, which researchers say is a 1-in-250-year event, was made up to 10 times more likely to occur and 40% more intense by anthropogenic climate change. As for Libya’s floods, a catastrophic natural events that typically occurs once every 300 to 600 years, researchers found that climate change made it up to 50 times more likely and up to 50% more intense compared to a 1.2C cooler climate.
Read more here.