Record temperatures and global risks: Everything to know about the environment this week

2021 was the world’s fifth hottest on record, scientists say; climate inaction tops global risks over next 10 years; Germany must reduce energy consumption by up to 25% to hit targets.

Environment and climate change stories to read this week

Australian authorities warned people to stay indoors on Friday as a severe heatwave along the northwestern coast pushed temperatures to a blistering 50.7 degrees Celsius (123 degrees Fahrenheit), hitting a high last seen 62 years ago.

Globally, last year was the fifth hottest on record, while levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere hit new highs in 2021, European Union scientists said. The EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) said in a report on Monday that the last seven years were the world’s warmest ‘by a clear margin’ in records dating back to 1850. The hottest years on record were 2020 and 2016.

Argentina is facing a historic heatwave with temperatures soaring above 40 degrees Celsius (104°F), making the country for a while the hottest place on the planet, straining power grids and forcing residents to seek sanctuary in the shade.

Floods around South Africa’s eastern coastal city of East London have killed at least 10 people and left hundreds homeless since the weekend, national media reported on Monday, as rivers burst their banks and roads were inundated.

US greenhouse gas emissions rose by 6.2% from 2020 levels last year as the use of coal-fired electricity jumped 17% and drivers returned to the roads after the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report released on Monday.

It comes as a new study by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found six-in-10 Americans are now ‘concerned’ or ‘alarmed’ about climate change, reports The Guardian.

Marked by devastating hurricanes and cold snaps in the United States, 2021 proved the second-most costly year on record for the world’s insurers, Munich Re said on Monday, warning that extreme weather was more likely with climate change. Insured losses from natural catastrophes totalled around $120 billion last year, second only to the $146 billion in damages during the hurricane-ridden year of 2017.

A study has found tiger sharks are migrating further north due to rising ocean temperatures. Neil Hammerschlag, director of the UM Shark Research and Conservation Program said the shifts in their movements outside of marine protected areas may leave them more vulnerable to commercial fishing.

Climate action failure top global risk over next 10 years

Climate action failure, extreme weather events, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse are the leading three of the top 10 global risks by severity over the next 10 years, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2022.

Nearly 1,000 risk experts and global leaders in business, government and civil society gave their views in the Forum’s annual Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS).

Climate action failure is also considered the most critical threat to the world in both the medium term (2-5 years) and long term (5-10 years), with the highest potential to severely damage societies, economies and the planet.

Most respondents to the survey believe too little is being done: 77% said international efforts to mitigate climate change have “not started” or are in “early development”.

Germany must reduce final energy consumption by 20-25% to hit 2030 goals

Germany faces a gigantic task to achieve the climate protection goals it has set for itself, Climate Minister Robert Habeck said on Tuesday, unveiling a report that showed the country risked missing emissions targets for 2030.

In order to hit its target of cutting CO2 emissions to 65% of 1990 levels by the start of the next decade, the country would need to reduce energy consumption by 20-25%, the ministry’s report said.

“The task is big. It’s gigantic,” Habeck told a news conference. “We managed to cut emissions by 15 million tonnes from 2010-2020, and from 2022 to 2030 we have to cut them by 40 million tonnes a year on average.”

Subscribe To Our Newsletter