Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

4 Groundbreaking Announcements From the Global Climate Action Summit

Popular
4 Groundbreaking Announcements From the Global Climate Action Summit
A group of mayors with event co-chair and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Global Climate Action Summit. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

Over the past three days, more than 4,000 people have gathered in San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) convened by California Governor Jerry Brown to mobilize regional, local and business leaders around climate change.

Seventeen states and 400 cities, representing together the world's third largest economy, have now joined Brown and summit co-chair and UN special envoy for climate action Michael Bloomberg's "We're Still In" commitment to honor the terms of the Paris agreement despite President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw, and Bloomberg announced at the summit Thursday that the group was making progress, The Nation reported.


"Today, we announce that this 'bottom up' movement will put us within striking distance of the US commitment to the Paris Agreement, even with zero support from our federal government," Bloomberg said, according to The Nation.

That announcement was based on a report written by researchers at the University of Maryland and the Rocky Mountain Institute that found that business, regional and local efforts have taken the U.S. nearly halfway towards meeting its 2025 Paris goal and will carry it two-thirds of the way by 2025 without federal support, according to a GCAS press release.

But that was only one of the many announcements made by cities, states and businesses as they celebrated their progress and reaffirmed their commitment to fighting climate change.

Here is a roundup of some of the highlights.

1. 27 Cities Have Reached Peak Carbon

Scientists have warned that global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak in 2020 and then rapidly decline in order to avoid catastrophic warming.

Luckily, on Thursday, Paris mayor and chair of the C40 network of cities committed to climate action Anne Hidalgo announced that 27 major cities, representing 54 million people, had already passed this milestone, according to a GCAS press release.

Barcelona, Basel, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Copenhagen, Heidelberg, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Melbourne, Milan, Montréal, New Orleans, New York City, Oslo, Paris, Philadelphia, Portland, Rome, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver, Warsaw and Washington, DC have all seen their emissions fall over the last five years to at least 10 percent below peak levels while their economies have continued to grow.

"It is an incredible achievement for these 27 cities, including Paris, to have peaked their emissions," Hidalgo said. "As the greatest custodians of the Paris Agreement, mayors of the world's great cities have once again shown that cities are getting the job done."

2. NYC Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

It is not enough for cities to rest on past accomplishments.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed up an earlier commitment to divest the New York pension fund from fossil fuels with a new commitment to double the fund's investments in climate change solutions to $4 billion within three years, a GCAS press release reported.

Ahead of the summit, de Blasio had joined with London Mayor Sadiq Khan to call on other cities to divest from fossil fuels and invest in solutions like renewable energy.

De Blasio was joined in his announcement by Comptroller Scott Stringer and other fund trustees.

"New York City leads from the front when it comes to the fight against climate change," de Blasio said. "We're taking a stand for generations to come with our goal to double our pension investments in job-creating climate solutions. I know that other cities will look to our example, and I implore them to join us."

3. West Coast Represents

The Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC), representing the states of California, Oregon, Washington, the Canadian province of British Columbia and the cities of Los Angeles, Oakland San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, renewed its commitment to working together against climate change and towards a growing renewable energy economy.

Commitments included reducing carbon emissions, developing a low-carbon, regional transportation system, improving building efficiency and reducing food waste 50 percent by 2030.

"The West Coast represents the world's fifth largest economy and we are creating a blueprint for other regions," Washington Governor Jay Inslee said. "We are building a thriving, innovative economy that combats climate change and embraces a zero-emission future. Our efforts aren't just building a clean energy economy, they're also creating great places to live. Our communities are growing healthier and more prosperous, and attractive to new businesses and workers."

4. EV Innovators Charge Forward

Business leaders made commitments as well, including ChargePoint, one of the world's largest networks of electric vehicle chargers, according to Reuters.

The company announced a pledge to add 2.5 million charging points to its network within the next seven years on Friday, according to a press release emailed to EcoWatch.

The commitment represents a nearly fifty-fold expansion of its charging network, would prevent two million tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere and would help establish infrastructure for a future in which EVs are expected to represent more than 50 percent of new car purchases by 2040.

ChargePoint President and CEO Pasquale Romano said in a press conference that the company had done the math, and the commitment meant the company was "going to grow in line with the adoption rate of EVS."

The commitment actually only covers a "subset" of ChargePoint's business, Romano said.

ChargePoint has developed a business model of going from business to business and installing chargers in company parking lots, and this is the network it is committed to expanding.

Its home and transportation fleet charging efforts are not included and will represent additional greenhouse gas savings.

Romano said that policy decisions by individual governments, such as Trump's reversal of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, could be "speed bumps" in the growth of EVs, but policies already established in California and the EU, as well as the quality and falling price of EVs, meant that their use would continue to expand.

"In the long term, this is an unstoppable train," he said.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An illustration depicts the extinct woolly rhino. Heinrich Harder / Wikimedia Commons

The last Ice Age eliminated some giant mammals, like the woolly rhino. Conventional thinking initially attributed their extinction to hunting. While overhunting may have contributed, a new study pinpointed a different reason for the woolly rhinos' extinction: climate change.

The last of the woolly rhinos went extinct in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago, just when the Earth's climate began changing from its frozen conditions to something warmer, wetter and less favorable to the large land mammal. DNA tests conducted by scientists on 14 well-preserved rhinos point to rapid warming as the culprit, CNN reported.

"Humans are well known to alter their environment and so the assumption is that if it was a large animal it would have been useful to people as food and that must have caused its demise," says Edana Lord, a graduate student at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-first author of the paper, Smithsonian Magazine reported. "But our findings highlight the role of rapid climate change in the woolly rhino's extinction."

The study, published in Current Biology, notes that the rhino population stayed fairly consistent for tens of thousands of years until 18,500 years ago. That means that people and rhinos lived together in Northern Siberia for roughly 13,000 years before rhinos went extinct, Science News reported.

The findings are an ominous harbinger for large species during the current climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported, nearly 1,000 species are expected to go extinct within the next 100 years due to their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Tigers, eagles and rhinos are especially vulnerable.

The difference between now and the phenomenon 14,000 years ago is that human activity is directly responsible for the current climate crisis.

To figure out the cause of the woolly rhinos' extinction, scientists examined DNA from different rhinos across Siberia. The tissue, bone and hair samples allowed them to deduce the population size and diversity for tens of thousands of years prior to extinction, CNN reported.

Researchers spent years exploring the Siberian permafrost to find enough samples. Then they had to look for pristine genetic material, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

It turns out the wooly rhinos actually thrived as they lived alongside humans.

"It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old," senior author Love Dalén, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics, said in a press release.

"This paper shows that woolly rhino coexisted with people for millennia without any significant impact on their population," Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for Canada's Yukon territory and Simon Fraser University who was not involved in the research, told Smithsonian Magazine. "Then all of a sudden the climate changed and they went extinct."

A large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of southeast Mauritius on Aug. 6, 2020. AFP via Getty Images

The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the fuel covering them. For all the damage to the centuries-old coral that surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists are realizing that the damage could have been much worse and there are broad lessons for the shipping industry, according to Al Jazeera.

Read More Show Less
A quality engineer examines new solar panels in a factory. alvarez / Getty Images

Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Imported frozen food in three Chinese cities has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but public health experts say you still shouldn't worry too much about catching the virus from food or packaging.

Read More Show Less
This image of the Santa Monica Mountains in California shows how a north-facing slope (left) can be covered in white-blooming hoaryleaf ceanothus (Ceanothus crassifolius), while the south-facing slope (right) is much less sparsely covered in a completely different plant. Noah Elhardt / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.5

By Mark Mancini

If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.

Read More Show Less
Flames from the Lake Fire burn on a hillside near a fire truck and other vehicles on Aug. 12, 2020 in Lake Hughes, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

An "explosive" wildfire ignited in Los Angeles county Wednesday, growing to 10,000 acres in a little less than three hours.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

Read More Show Less