It’s hard to focus on anything but the coronavirus. We hear you—so we rounded up this week’s top environmental stories for your convenience. This week: scientists recommending weapons in our war against climate change. A study finds rich people are to be blamed for the climate crisis. The Global Fashion Group sets sustainability goals, and more…
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1. Scientists believe we must fight climate change like it’s a war.
A group of experts have penned a note titled: “War Against Global Heating”. They’re experts spanning the subjects physics, geology, science education, coral reefs and climate system science. And they believe that “the lack of progress by governments reducing global emissions means bold solutions are now urgently needed.” What are those solutions? They’ve identified seven areas, including bushfires, renewable energy, energy and transport, radiative management, tree cover, carbon dioxide mineralisation and farming. Now, these are solutions specific to Australia, but that doesn’t mean other countries can’t take the lead too!
2. According to a study of 86 countries… rich people caused the global climate crisis.
The University of Leeds study combined European Union and World Bank data to calculate how different income groups spend their money. The wealthiest tenth of people consume 20 times more energy than the bottom tenth. Which is perhaps unsurprising given transport (in particular flying and driving) is a key factor in the disparity. The researchers found the more affluent people became, the more energy they typically use. This is a pattern that is seen across all countries. When they compared the data between countries, they found that among the top 5% of global energy consumers, you have: 1/5 of UK citizens, 40% of German citizens and Luxembourg’s entire population. Interestingly, only 2% of Chinese citizens and 0.02% of Indian citizens are among the top 5%.
3. Global Fashion Group sets sustainability goals…
Global Fashion Group is an online fashion company in Singapore which owns websites including The Iconic, Dafiti, Lamoda, and most notably Zalora. It published its first sustainability report, which has a series of targets it aims to achieve by the beginning of 2022. These include mapping greenhouse gas emissions and setting science-based targets to reduce them across the entire group. The strategy is based around four pillars: ethical trade, environment, community and responsible workforce. This is big news, because the group employs 12,828 people across 19 countries, and has 12 million active customers. Which means if they do it right, we’re about to see some big impact.
We’ve yet to find out exactly what’s going to happen, but we’ll have to wait to see if it’s greenwashing, or if they’re serious…
4. Global banks are “failing miserably” on the climate crisis by financing the fossil fuel industry.
The analysis, compiled by US-based environmental groups, used data from 2016 to 2019. It found that the world’s largest investment banks have funnelled more than $2.66 trillion into fossil fuels since the Paris agreement. In fact, financing for the companies most aggressively expanding in new fossil fuel extraction since the Paris agreement has surged by nearly 40% in the last year. The US bank, JP Morgan Chase, has been the largest financier of fossil fuels. (Ironically, last month, they published a report warning us that the climate crisis would threaten the survival of humanity. Greenwashing much?)
So forget all the recent announcements about financing restrictions on coal, Arctic oil and gas and tar sands extraction. “The data reveal[s] that global banks are not only ramping up financing of fossil fuels overall but are also increasing funding for the companies most responsible for fossil fuel expansion.”
5. Is COP26 going virtual?
Coronavirus is cancelling a lot of things, and COP26 seems to be the latest event that’s up for discussion. Due to happen in November in Glasgow, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties will be the “biggest international summit the UK has ever hosted”. According to David King, a former chief scientific advisor to the UK government, there is a “possibility” that the event might be conducted virtually. However, many have expressed concerns that this isn’t feasible. Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, told The Independent: “COP26 is made up of a rich ecosystem. 30,000-ish people from different walks of life in one place, allowing for the scrutiny of governments and rich debates to be held – it wouldn’t be possible to reduce all that into a video conference call.”
Historically, COP hasn’t been particularly fruitful. We’re hoping this one, virtual or not, makes a difference.