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Antarctica Sea Ice Levels Hit Record Low, and the Other Climate Crisis Stories You Need to Read this Week

  • This weekly round-up brings you key climate crisis stories from the past seven days.
  • Top climate crisis and environment news: Antarctica sea ice reaches record low; Cyclone Gabrielle could cost New Zealand over $8 billion; UAE’s COP28 president-designate says world is ‘way off track’ in climate crisis fight

1. News in brief: Top climate crisis stories this week

Scientists in the United States say Antarctica sea ice levels have reached a record low. The National Snow & Ice Data Center’s data shows that on 13 February sea ice extent fell to 1.91 million square kilometres, the second year in a row that it has fallen below 2 million square kilometres.

Graphic showing concentration of sea ice in Antarctica. Climate

Much of the Antarctic coast was ice-free on 13 February. Image: NSIDC

Delegations from countries around the world will meet in New York this week in an attempt to finalize a new ocean protection treaty. Last year, a round of talks on the new United Nations Ocean Conservation Treaty was suspended, with delegates unable to reach an agreement on financing.

China is home to 16 of the 20 global regions most vulnerable to the climate crisis, according to new data. Climate risk specialists XDI assessed more than 2,600 regions worldwide, using climate models together with weather and environmental data to assess the economic damage that temperature rises could cause by 2050.

New Zealand’s government says the damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle could rise above $8 billion. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says Gabrielle is the biggest natural disaster to hit the country this century.

Weeks of dry winter weather have raised concerns that Italy could face another drought after last summer’s emergency, with the Alps having received less than half of their normal snowfall. The Po, Italy’s longest river, which runs from the Alps in the northwest to the Adriatic, has 61% less water than normal at this time of year, according to environmental groups.

Extreme high temperatures in Argentina linked to the climate crisis exacerbated the impact of a historic drought affecting the country since last year, scientists say. The World Weather Attribution group says it’s analysis shows that global warming did not reduce rainfall directly, but that high temperatures likely reduced water availability and worsened the impacts of drought.

Rising global temperatures have caused a dramatic increase in the range of mosquitoes that transmit malariaThe New York Times reports. Scientists at Georgetown University have found that over the past century, the insects have been moving to higher elevations and further away from the Equator.

The European Parliament has approved a law to effectively ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in the bloc from 2035. It’s aimed at speeding up the switch to electric vehicles thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

The UK’s King Charles has met with political and business leaders to urge action on protecting biodiversity. He is founder of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, which was launched in 2020 at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

2. UAE’s COP28 president-designate says world is ‘way off track’ in climate crisis fight

The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) climate envoy and designated president of the COP28 climate summit says the world needs a “course correction” to limit global warming. The UAE, a major OPEC oil exporter, will be the second Arab state to host the climate conference after Egypt in 2022.

“We already know that we are way off track,” Sultan al-Jaber told the World Government Summit in Dubai. “The world is playing catch-up when it comes to holding global temperatures down to 1.5 degrees, and the hard reality is that global emissions must fall 43% by 2030,” he said.

Jaber said policies should support growth and help battle the climate crisis at the same time. “Capital is critical to make the loss and damage fund real and operational and it is the key to a fair deal on climate finance for the Global South,” he said, referring to developing nations.

The loss and damage fund, agreed to at the COP27 conference in Egypt last year, was hailed as a breakthrough for developing countries. But climate activists have since claimed that the fund remains empty. Scheduled between 30 November and 12 December, the summit will be the first global assessment of progress since the landmark Paris Agreement in 2015 to limit global warming.

3. More on the climate crisis on Agenda

Waste management is an essential part of tackling the climate crisis, particularly plastic waste. A new UN tool is allowing authorities in two Indian cities to measure their waste and develop policy insights.

The top 10% of global energy consumers currently use around 30 times more energy than the bottom 10%. To ensure a safe climate, the gap in energy consumption between the world’s lowest and highest energy consumers would have to reduce eight-fold by 2050, a recent study has found.

Climate-proofing homes with energy efficiency and electrification upgrades also curbs their contributions to the climate crisis. But awareness around this issue is low, and governments need to do more to encourage widespread adoption of improvements, writes Lauren Salz, CEO and co-founder of Sealed.

Source : World Economic Forum