Counting the cost of natural disasters, plus the other climate-crisis stories you need to read this week

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Stefan Ellerbeck, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • This weekly round-up brings you key climate crisis stories from the past seven days.
  • Top climate crisis and environment stories: Natural disasters cost the global economy over $300 billion in 2022; Brazil plans to issue its first green bond; EU moves to reverse a decline in pollinating insects.

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

Natural disasters, many driven by the climate crisis, caused global economic losses of $313 billion in 2022, according to insurance broker Aon. Losses from natural catastrophes covered by the insurance sector amounted to $132 billion, which was 57% above the 21st-century average.

Brazil plans to issue its first green bond in 2023, as the country’s new government tries to use its environmental agenda to attract investment. Treasury Secretary Rogerio Ceron says the bonds must be linked to green projects, citing sustainable agriculture and energy transition as examples.

Climate policy announcements from the past three months are becoming more ambitious, and most aim for a rise in global temperatures of no more than 1.8°C, according to new analysis. Climate transition forecaster the Inevitable Policy Response has been tracking government and private-sector climate policies since 2021.


How is the World Economic Forum fighting the climate crisis?

The World Economic Forum’s Centre for Nature and Climate accelerates action on climate change and environmental sustainability, food systems, the circular economy and value chains, and the future of international development.

  • Through the Global Plastic Action Partnership, the Forum is bringing together government, business and civil society to shape a more sustainable world by eradicating plastic pollution.
  • Global companies are collaborating through the Forum’s initiative to support 1 trillion trees by 2030, with over 30 companies having already committed to conserve, restore and grow more than 3.6 billion trees in over 60 countries.
  • Through a partnership with the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and over 50 global businesses, the Forum is encouraging companies to join the First Movers Coalition and invest in innovative green technologies to enable net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • The Forum is bringing global leaders together to reduce the environmental impact of value chains and make the $4.5 trillion circular economy opportunity a reality. The African Circular Economy Alliance is funding circular economy entrepreneurs and circular economy activities in Rwanda, Nigeria and South Africa, while the Circular Electronics in China project is helping companies reduce and recycle 50% of e-waste by 2025.
  • Since launching in 2020, the Forum’s open innovation platform UpLink has welcomed over 40,000 users who are working on more than 30 challenges crowdsourcing solutions to the climate crisis.
  • More than 1000 partners from the private sector, government and civil society are working together through the 2030 Water Resources Group to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. The group has facilitated close to $1 billion of financing for water-related programmes.

Contact us for more information on how to get involved.

The US Department of Energy has announced almost $120 million in funding to expand domestic biofuels production, as the White House works to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and meet climate goals. The funds add to the more than $500 million the department has put into bioenergy and biorefinery research and development over the past two years.

Japan has set a target of annual carbon dioxide (CO2) storage capacity of 6 million to 12 million tonnes by 2030, under a long-term roadmap for carbon capture and storage (CCS). Tokyo sees CCS technology, which removes CO2 emissions from the atmosphere and stores them underground, as essential to achieving its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

The Indian capital New Delhi is enforcing a ban on coal burning in a drive for cleaner air that is forcing industry to shift to biomass. The move has pushed about half of the 1,695 units in a cluster of small industries around one of the world’s most polluted capitals to use biomass, up from fewer than 15% counted in a 2020 study.

Around 19% of all cars sold in California last year were zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), accounting for 40% of all US ZEV sales, including hybrid vehicles, data shows. President Joe Biden has called for 50% of all new vehicle sales by 2030 to be EVs or plug-in hybrids.

2. EU proposes ‘buzz lines’ to reverse decline of pollinators

Measures to help bees and other pollinators move across Europe to find food and shelter are part of plans laid out by the EU to reverse the decline of insects vital to crop production. The seven-year plan will also increase monitoring of the insects across the 27 member states.

Changing land use, intensive agriculture using pesticides, pollution, invasive alien species, pathogens and the climate crisis are among the threats facing pollinating insects. Around 10% of bee and butterfly species, and one in three hoverfly species, is threatened with extinction.

Massive insect decline threatens collapse of nature

Bee populations declined by 46% between 2009 and 2019

Once the plan is approved, EU member states will have to identify measures to reverse the decline of pollinators by 2030. This will be a legal requirement under the EU’s Nature Restoration Law.

Mitigating pesticide use and enhancing pollinator habitats in agricultural and urban areas have been recommended by the European Commission. It will monitor emergency authorizations granted for harmful pesticides and prohibit use where not authorized.

France has shelved plans to allow sugar beet growers to use a pesticide banned over risks to bees, after an EU court rejected the exemption.

3. India’s EV boom prompts rethink about fuel needs

The rapid take-up of electric vehicles (EVs) in India has prompted a major rethink about the country’s long-term fuel needs, leading oil refiners in Asia’s third-largest economy to hasten a shift in their business plans. India has lagged behind major economic competitors in Europe and Asia in the adoption of EVs. However sales are now picking up, and investment in the production of new vehicles and energy infrastructure is accelerating.

The faster-than-anticipated industry growth means India’s gasoline consumption will peak sooner than previously thought, some analysts say. This will force top oil firms to expedite transition plans to alternative business lines.

Slowing fuel demand will be quite visible by around 2030 as EV technologies stabilize, compared with an earlier projection of the 2040s, an industry source at an India-based refinery told Reuters. The heavy trucking sector will see changes a little later, they added.

EVs make up just 1% of the 3 million cars sold in India each year. New Delhi wants to grow this to 30% by 2030 and has introduced a range of policies to get there, including tax breaks for consumers.

4. More on the climate crisis on Agenda

Psychological trauma from extreme weather and climate events can have long-term impacts on survivors’ brains and cognitive functioning, explains Jyoti Mishra, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California. She outlines some strategies that people can use to protect their mental well-being.

The climate crisis was to blame for several extreme weather events over the past two years, according to a new meteorological report. The document is part of an 11-year series which found that 80% of extreme weather events studied over that period can be connected to global warming.

Mountains are home to more than 85% of the world’s amphibian, bird and mammal species. But Rob Marchant, Professor of Tropical Ecology at the University of York, explains that mountain biodiversity is increasingly under threat from the climate crisis and human activity.

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