Climate change in the news: the CliMates March Press Review

Once a month, CliMates give their lookout on climatic news from around the world. Here is a summary of our findings for March. Not surprisingly, concern about the impacts of climate change keeps growing, while policies to tackle it remain slow in the making (heard that one before?).

This is no breaking news, but in the absence of more ambitious mitigation policies, the world is likely to be set for a 4° C warming. With that in mind, EU’s chief negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger reminded his American and Japanese colleagues that it is time to bring more to the negotiating table, Euractiv explains.

Unfortunately, it won’t take 4°C to disturb the Seychelles habitat, where changing season patterns are already putting several endemic species at risk, according to AFP.

For a shot of optimism though (well…), James Hansen gave a great speech on TEDx.

The atoll-state of Kiribati is gearing up as well for the worst, and plans to buy land from Fiji’s in order to have somewhere to relocate its citizens when sea-levels get too high, says The Telegraph.

Syria, like most of its Mediterranean neighbours, risks experiencing increased drought because of climate change. In a well-documented blog post published on Think Progress, Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell explore the complex links between climate change, water scarcity, agricultural yields and social unrest there.

Looking up North, The Guardian raises concerns about the future of outdoor ice hockey in Canada – with temperatures there having increased by more than 2.5° C since 1950, the ice season has noticeably shortened.

Meanwhile, the New York Times worries about ocean acidification, in reference to a research review published in Science that suggests this process is now occuring faster than at any time in the past 300 million years.

Again, Euractiv warns about ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions trends: global carbon emissions from energy reached an all-time high in 2010 and, according to the OECD’s environmental outlook to 2050 released on March 15, we can expect a 50% increase in GHG emissions in 2050 if no changes are made to the global energy mix (but yes, keeping a fair chance of complying with the 2°C objective roughly implies a 50-80% decrease in 2050).

This did not keep Poland from vetoing the EU’s roadmap for emission reductions once again, as explained on Planet Ark and the Washington Post. And the Airline ETS crisis is still raging, with aviation firms stepping in, says Euractiv. Though China seemed willing to avoid trade conflict – on Euractiv again – it is likely that the first climate wars will be trade wars.

There was a first step, though, towards rural CO2 emissions rules in order to incorporate forests and agriculture into the EU’s emissions reductions efforts, as reported by Euractiv.

In spite of the slow take-off of current mitigation policies, the renewable energy sector is changing dramatically. According to Business Green, it has “smashed revenue records” last year, with a 31% increase in market.

In Power Engineering, Ajay Gambhir from the Grantham Institute explores what “decarbonizing China” would imply.  At any rate, China definitely has plans for massive deployment of renewable energy, as the Guardian’s environmental correspondent in China points out.

Would that be enough to challenge Germany’s leadership position in the sector? As Bloomberg reports, the choice to give up nuclear means the country will have to go through a deep transformation of its energy sector, and scale-up renewable energy production.

In the US too, renewable energy is blooming, and not always where people would like: controversies are developing around the Solar Grand Plans for the Mojave Desert, which would threaten rare species that are key components of some local tribes’ cosmology, as reported in the Guardian. Importing cheap Chinese solar panels has helped the growth in installed photovoltaic capacity, but the Commerce Department decided last week to impose a tariff on such imports – this, and more, is explained in an excellent analysis of the state of American photovoltaic in the New York Time.

On a smaller scale, The Hindu described a project that aims at reducing emissions from dying, or rather, to reduce the use of wood in crematoriums.

In case cutting carbon emissions does not work, a proposition even more avant-garde than that of geo-engineering has emerged… What about directly engineering the Human body so that it pollutes less, as S. Matthew Liao suggested in an interview to the Atlantic? Up to you to judge whether this is scary or hilarious – or both.

A longer version of the Press Review is available on the CliMates website.

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