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A new study has predicted that if current trends continue and the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nearly all of the world’s coral reefs, including many in the Caribbean, will suffer severe bleaching — the gravest threat to one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems — on annual basis.
The finding is part of a study funded by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners, which reviewed new climate change projections to predict which corals will be affected first and at what rate.
The report is published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Researchers found that the reefs in Taiwan and the Turks and Caicos archipelago will be among the first to experience annual bleaching, followed by reefs off the coast of Bahrain, in Chile and in French Polynesia.
Calling the predictions “a treasure trove” for environmentalists, the head of the UN agency, Erik Solheim, said the projects allow conservationists and governments to prioritise reef protection.
“The projections show us where we still have time to act before it’s too late,” Solheim said.
On average, the reefs started undergoing annual bleaching from 2014, according to the study.
Without the required minimum of five years to regenerate, the annual occurrences will have a deadly effect on the corals and disrupt the ecosystems which they support, UNEP said.
However, it said that if governments act on emission reduction pledges made in the Paris Agreement, which calls on countries to combat climate change and limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, the corals would have another 11 years to adapt to the warming seas.
Between 2014 and 2016, UNEP said the world witnessed the longest global bleaching event recorded.
Among the casualties, it said, was the Great Barrier Reef, with 90 per cent of it bleached and 20 per cent of the reef’s coral killed.
The European Parliament has approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the European Union today.
With today’s European Parliament approval of the Paris Agreement ratification – in the presence of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the United Nation’s Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the President of COP 21 Ségolène Royal – the last hurdle is cleared. The political process for the European Union to ratify the Agreement is concluded.
* President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union Speech on 14 September called for a swift ratification of the agreement.
He said: “Slow delivery on promises made is a phenomenon that more and more risks undermining the Union’s credibility. Take the Paris agreement. We Europeans are the world leaders on climate action. It was Europe that brokered the first-ever legally binding, global climate deal. It was Europe that built the coalition of ambition that made agreement in Paris possible. I call on all Member States and on this Parliament to do your part in the next weeks, not months. We should be faster.” Today this is happening.
President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Today the European Union turned climate ambition into climate action. The Paris Agreement is the first of its kind and it would not have been possible were it not for the European Union. Today we continued to show leadership and prove that, together, the European Union can deliver.”
The Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said: “The European parliament has heard the voice of its people. The European Union is already implementing its own commitments to the Paris Agreement but today’s swift ratification triggers its implementation in the rest of the world.”
Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: “Our collective task is to turn our commitments into action on the ground. And here Europe is ahead of the curve. We have the policies and tools to meet our targets, steer the global clean energy transition and modernise our economy. The world is moving and Europe is in a driver’s seat, confident and proud of leading the work to tackle climate change”.
So far, 62 parties, accounting for almost 52 % of global emissions have ratified the Paris Agreement. The Agreement will enter into force 30 days after at least 55 parties, representing at least 55% of global emissions have ratified. The EU ratification and deposit will cross the 55% emission threshold and therefore trigger the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.
The EU, which played a decisive role in building the coalition of ambition making the adoption of the Paris Agreement possible last December, is a global leader on climate action. The European Commission has already brought forward the legislative proposals to deliver on the EU’s commitment to reduce emissions in the European Union by at least 40% by 2030.
With today’s approval by the European Parliament, the Council can formally adopt the Decision. In parallel the EU Member States will ratify the Paris Agreement individually, in accordance with their national parliamentary processes.
Conclusions of the Extraordinary Environmental Council from 30 September 2016:
Statement by the Commission following the Ministers approval of the ratification:
Commission’s proposal for the EU ratification of the Paris Agreement from June 2016:
Commission’s assessment of the implications of the Paris Agreement for the EU from March 2016:
Speech by President Juncker at the Leaders Event of the COP21 in Paris:
Commission’s reaction following the historic climate deal in Paris on 12 December 2015:
Politicians must act to cap global warming when they meet at a United Nations summit at the end of the year as the financial and humanitarian consequences of natural catastrophes become ever clearer, reinsurers meeting at an industry conference said.
The $600 billion reinsurance industry helps insurance companies pay damage claims from hurricanes, floods or earthquakes and can help people and companies get back on their feet after a disaster.
The UN’s climate boss warned this week that national promises to cut emissions so far would cap warming at an unacceptably high level, heightening concerns in the insurance industry about politicians’ lack of resolve.
“Definitely we expect political courage to move in a direction that shows responsibility towards future generations and a certain interest in defending the sustainability of this planet,” Swiss Re’s Chief Executive, Michel Lies, told a news conference.
Swiss Re data shows natural disasters caused an average $180 billion in economic damage per year over the last decade, of which 70 percent was uninsured.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s said big natural catastrophes can also lead to cuts in sovereign credit ratings — making it more expensive for governments to borrow money — with Latin America and the Caribbean most at risk.
These conclusions should help concentrate minds at the climate talks starting in Paris on Nov. 30, reinsurers said.
“What we can bring to the table is a credible price tag for the decisions that are taken or not taken, making sure everybody understands that in the short term you may not take a decision but you will definitely pay a price in the long term,” Lies said.
Weather researchers say global warming will result in more frequent and intense heatwaves, precipitation and storms. Warming needs to be limited to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid the most devastating consequences in the form of droughts and rising sea levels, scientists say.
“Even if this goal is not fully reached, every step in this direction is better than no result at all,” said Peter Hoeppe, head of Geo Risks Research at reinsurer Munich Re.
In the meantime, there must be increasing focus on preventive measures such as flood defences that can help dampen the rise in insurance premiums in the medium to long term, Hoeppe said.
Insurers and Group of Seven industrialized countries are working to expand the availability of insurance to an additional 400 million people in developing countries considered at high risk.
“Climate change is happening, no question,” said XL Group’s Chief Executive, Mike McGavick.
“Insurers and reinsurers have to be at the forefront of transferring that risk,” McGavick said.
Credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch