Connect with us

Climate change

President von der Leyen delivers speech at the One Planet Summit

SHARE:

Published

on

During the 'One Planet' summit which was held on 11 January in Paris, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured) delivered a speech on sustainable agriculture, biodiversity and the fight against climate change, stressing that these are different sides of the same coin. To illustrate the EU's support for global co-operation and local action, it pledged to support and sponsor the Africa-led Great Green Wall flagship initiative which aims to tackle the land degradation and desertification, building on the EU's long-standing investment in this initiative.

She also announced that EU research and innovation on health and biodiversity will be a priority as part of a global co-operative and coordination effort. With the Green Deal for Europe, the EU is at the forefront of international action in favour of climate and biodiversity. President von der Leyen highlighted the role of nature and sustainable agriculture in achieving the goal of the Green Deal for Europe, which is to make Europe the first climate neutral continent of by 2050.

Last May, the Commission published the Biodiversity and Farm-to-Table strategies, which set out the EU's ambitious actions and commitments to halt biodiversity loss in Europe and in the world, to transform European agriculture into sustainable and organic agriculture and to support farmers in this transition. The “One Planet” summit, co-organized by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, began with a commitment by leaders in favor of biodiversity, which President von der Leyen has already supported during the session of the United Nations General Assembly last September. The summit sought to build momentum for COP15 on biodiversity and COP26 on climate this year.

Advertisement

Follow the speech by videoconference on EbS.

Climate change

We have to fight global warming much faster - Merkel

Published

on

By

Not enough has been done to reduce carbon emissions to help tackle global warming, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured) said last week, writes Kirsti Knolle, Reuters.

"This is not only true for Germany but for many countries in the world," Merkel told a news conference in Berlin, adding that it was important to implement measures compatible with climate goals in the Paris agreement.

Merkel, who stands down as chanceller later this year, said she had devoted much energy during her political career on climate protection but was very aware of the need for much speedier action.

Advertisement

Continue Reading

Climate change

As floods hit western Europe, scientists say climate change hikes heavy rain

Published

on

By

A cyclist drives through a flooded street following heavy rainfalls in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany, July 16, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
Firefighters walk a flooded street following heavy rainfalls in Erftstadt-Blessem, Germany, July 16, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

The extreme rainfall causing deadly flooding across western Germany and Belgium has been so alarming, many across Europe are asking if climate change is to blame, write Isla Binnie and Kate Abnett.

Scientists have long said that climate change will lead to heavier downpours. But determining its role in last week's relentless downpours will take at least several weeks to research, scientists said on Friday.

"Floods always happen, and they are like random events, like rolling the dice. But we've changed the odds on rolling the dice," said Ralf Toumi, a climate scientist at Imperial College London.

Advertisement

Since the rainfall began, water has burst riverbanks and cascaded through communities, toppling telephone towers and tearing down homes along its path. At least 157 people have been killed and hundreds more were missing as of Saturday (17 July).

The deluge shocked many. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the floods a catastrophe, and vowed to support those affected through these "difficult and scary times."

In general the rising average global temperature – now about 1.2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average – makes heavy rainfall more likely, according to scientists.

Warmer air holds more moisture, which means more water will be released eventually. More than 15 centimetres (6 inches) of rain soaked the German city of Cologne on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"When we have this heavy rainfall, then the atmosphere is almost like a sponge - you squeeze a sponge and the water flows out," said Johannes Quaas, professor of Theoretical Meteorology at Leipzig University.

A 1-degree rise in average global temperature increases the atmosphere's capacity to hold water by 7%, climate scientists have said, raising the chance of heavy rainfall events.

Other factors including local geography and air pressure systems also determine how specific areas are affected.

Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of World Weather Attribution, an international scientific network that analyses how climate change might have contributed to specific weather events, said he expected it could take weeks to determine a link between the rains and climate change.

"We're quick, but we're not that quick," said van Oldenborgh, a climate scientist at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.

Early observations suggest the rains might have been encouraged by a low-pressure system parked over western Europe for days, at it was blocked from moving on by high pressure to the east and north.

The floods follow just weeks after a record-breaking heatwave killed hundreds of people in Canada and the United States. Scientists have since said that extreme heat would have been "virtually impossible" without climate change, which had made such an event at least 150 times more likely to occur.

Europe also has been unusually hot. The Finnish capital of Helsinki, for example, just had its most scorching June on record since 1844.

This week's rains have smashed rainfall and river-level records in areas of western Europe.

Though researchers have been predicting weather disruption from climate change for decades, some say the speed with which these extremes are hitting has taken them by surprise.

"I am scared that it seems to be happening so quickly," said Hayley Fowler, a hydroclimatologist at Newcastle University in Britain, noting the "seriously record-breaking events all over the world, within weeks of each other."

Others said the rainfall was not such a surprise, but that the high death toll suggested areas lacked effective warning and evacuation systems to cope with extreme weather events.

"Rainfall doesn't equal disaster," said Imperial College London's Toumi. "What's really disturbing is the number of fatalities. ... It's a wake-up call."

The European Union this week proposed a raft of climate policies aimed at slashing the bloc's planet-warming emissions by 2030.

Slashing emissions is crucial for slowing climate change, said Stefan Rahmstorf, an oceanographer and climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

"We have already a warmer world with melting ice, rising seas, more extreme weather events. That will be with us and with the next generations," Rahmstorf said. "But we can still prevent it from getting much worse."

Continue Reading

Climate change

European Climate Pact Day of Action

Published

on

Today (29 June), Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans participates in the Climate Pact Day of Action. This one-day digital event aims to raise awareness of the opportunities provided by the European Climate Pact for pledging individual and collective climate action, sharing uplifting stories and connecting people to actions in their own country and local community. The programme includes a main event, separate launches in different EU countries, matchmaking and expert advice, and a workshop bringing together young people aged 15-30 from all around Europe to create innovative projects together. The European Climate Pact is an EU-wide initiative inviting people, communities and organisations to participate in climate action and build a greener Europe, each taking steps in their own worlds to build a more sustainable planet. Launched in December 2020, the Pact is part of the European Green Deal, and is helping the EU to meet its goal to be the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. For more information and to register, visit the Climate Pact Day of Action and the Youth Climate Pact Challenge webpages.

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending