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Authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years. Dawn Ellner / Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Jessica Corbett

As a United Nations agency released new climate projections showing that the world is on track in the next five years to hit or surpass a key limit of the Paris agreement, authors of a new study warned Thursday that increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is nearing a level not seen in 15 million years.

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People relax in Victoria Gardens with the Houses of Parliament in the background in central London, as a heatwave hit the continent with temperatures touching 40 degrees Celsius on June 25, 2020. NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP via Getty Images

The chance that UK summer days could hit the 40 degree Celsius mark on the thermometer is on the rise, a new study from the country's Met Office Hadley Centre has found.

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Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on the Climate Crisis visit the National Renewable Energy Lab on Aug. 1, 2019. National Renewable Energy Lab
House Democrats are releasing an aggressive new plan to fight the climate crisis on Tuesday. The 538-page plan includes various goals to dramatically reduce the nation's emissions. It sets a target for every new car sold by 2035 to emit no greenhouse gases, to eliminate overall emissions from the power sector by 2040, and to all but eliminate the country's total emissions by 2050, according to The New York Times.
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Greta Thunberg in a video conversation with Swedish professor and joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research Johan Rockstrom, broadcasted live to a global audience from Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm, Sweden on April 22, 2020. JESSICA GOW / TT News Agency / AFP via Getty Images

When you want a seat on the UN Security Council, the last thing you need is a teenage activist, practiced at the art of shaming government officials, working against you. However, that's just what Norway and Canada have.

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A coke storage area is seen as steam rises from the quench towers at the US Steel Clairton Works on Jan. 21, 2020, in Clairton, Pennsylvania. White plumes of smoke billow above western Pennsylvania's rolling hills as scorching ovens bake coal, which rolls in by the trainload along the Monongahela River. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP via Getty Images

President Trump's claim that the U.S. has the cleanest air and water in the world has been widely refuted by statistics showing harmful levels of pollution. Now, a new biannual ranking released by researchers at Yale and Columbia finds that the U.S. is nowhere near the top in environmental performance, according to The Guardian.

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"Most of this fossil fuel finance flowed to wealthier countries," the report says, noting that China (pictured), Canada, Japan, and Korea provided the most public finance for dirty energy projects from 2016 to 2018.
Kevin Frayer / Stringer / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Even after the world's largest economies adopted the landmark Paris agreement to tackle the climate crisis in late 2015, governments continued to pour $77 billion a year in public finance into propping up the fossil fuel industry, according to a report released Wednesday.

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Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shake hands during an event to launch the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, in central London on February 4, 2020. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / POOL / AFP / Getty Images

The U.K. government has proposed delaying the annual international climate negotiations for a full year after its original date to November 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Unused rental cars are stored in the parking lot of dormant Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California on April 23, 2020. Clearer skies have followed coronavirus lockdowns around the world. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The lockdowns imposed around the globe in response to the coronavirus pandemic led to a record drop in greenhouse gas emissions, according to research published in Nature Climate Change Tuesday.

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Aerial view of a wind farm near The Øresund Bridge in Sweden on June 26, 2018. Maxym Marusenko / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Johnny Wood

What does COVID-19 mean for the energy transition? While lockdowns have caused a temporary fall in CO2 emissions, the pandemic risks derailing recent progress in addressing the world's energy challenges.

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A display commemorates the 25th Earth Day in Washington, DC on April 22, 1995. Jeffrey Markowitz / Sygma via Getty Images

This April 22, Earth Day turns 50.

The world's largest secular holiday approaches its golden anniversary in the shadow of two global crises. This year's day is dedicated to climate action, and the celebration has moved online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Earth Day has a history of uniting people around the world to solve the major problems facing our planet. Here's a look back on some of the most important Earth Days in the celebration's 50-year history and what they helped accomplish.

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New research shows that the choice between climate action and economic growth is in fact a false dichotomy. chuyu / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Every country around the world would see economic gains from combating the climate crisis and trying to keep global heating within the bounds of the Paris agreement, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.

The straw man argument against taking action on the climate crisis is that the cost of limiting emissions and investing in green infrastructure is too steep and would cripple economies. It turns out, according to the research, that the opposite is true.

In fact, the study found that if nations around the world fail to curtail greenhouse gas emissions within the bounds of the Paris agreement, the global economy will lose anywhere from $150 trillion to nearly $800 trillion by the year 2100, as CBS News reported. The upper end of the range is if countries fail to meet their current commitments, which are inadequate to meet the Paris agreement as they are expected to lead to 3 degrees Celsius in warming.

The study's authors, from the Beijing Institute of Technology and other Chinese institutions, billed their findings as a self-preservation strategy for government, according to The Guardian.

The researchers calculated the potential benefits of emissions reductions by looking at the social welfare aspects of cutting greenhouse gases and its affect on economic growth. They found that the benefits from cutting emissions would provide the largest boost to developing countries with large populations of poor and vulnerable people, who are most likely to be negatively affected by droughts, floods, fires, storms and food shortages, as The Guardian reported.

While all countries would benefit in the long term, the most immediate benefits would go to developing countries with high emissions, such as India, Indonesia, Nigeria and China, according to The Guardian.

The Paris agreement is composed of voluntary commitments known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, made by each country in the accord. The main aspect of the commitments is to reduce greenhouse emissions by cutting the burning of fossil fuels, thus reducing global warming and the adverse impacts of warming. However, many countries are witnessing economic damage from the coronavirus lockdowns and are rethinking their commitment to their NDCs. Already, government bailouts for the fossil fuel industry and the airline industry are in the works, as well as a rollback of their carbon emission reductions, as CBS News reported.

"A number of studies have proved that current [NDCs] are not enough to achieve the global warming targets," said Biying Yu, from the Beijing Institute of Technology and a co-author of the study, as CBS News reported.

The research shows that the choice between climate action and economic growth is in fact a false dichotomy. The authors' work concludes that countries could reach their climate goals and at the same time see an increase in their net income.

According to CBS News, Yu and her team calculated ideal strategies for countries to improve their NDCs, minimize economic losses and maximize gains. They found that if nations are able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then the net global economic benefit would range between $127 trillion and $616 trillion by the end of the century.

"Early and quick action will provide a better chance to close the widening emissions gap, even though a large amount of abatement cost would occur in the short term," said the study.

"The literature overwhelmingly shows the economic benefits of serious mitigation efforts exceed the costs in the long run," said Noah Kaufman, a climate and energy economist from Columbia University, to CBS News.

However, Yu is concerned that governments will be short-sighted and balk at the upfront cost of investing in infrastructure to combat the climate crisis. She also sees that the climate emergency takes commitments from every country.

"Combating climate change is not a matter for one country. It requires collective action and cooperation from all countries around the world," Yu explained, as CBS News reported. "Let's work together and save ourselves."