Australian government downgrades outlook to ‘very poor’ for Great Barrier Reef

Jeck Deocampo   •   August 30, 2019   •   793

The Great Barrier Reef

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is in very poor condition because of climate change, coral bleaching events and the predator crown-of-thorns starfish, the government said on Friday (August 30), as it downgraded its status to the lowest level, which could threaten its World Heritage listing.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) said the health of the reef had deteriorated since its last review in 2014, but the problems the reef faces were not insurmountable.

The report, which is compiled every five years, painted a deteriorating picture of widespread coral bleaching, habitat loss and degradation caused by human-induced climate change, overfishing, poor water quality, and coastal land clearing for grazing.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee last year called for global action on climate change to protect five coral reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef. The committee is due to consider the reef’s heritage listing, considering its health and a possible “in-danger” status. (REUTERS)

(Production: Stefica Nicol Bikes)

Climate emergency remains as urgent as ever amid COVID-19 pandemic—Cimatu

Aileen Cerrudo   •   July 23, 2020

Climate change still remains as urgent as ever amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu.

“It is like the COVID-19 emergency, just in slow motion and much graver,” Cimatu said on Wednesday (July 22).

The DENR also said climate change have a multiplier effect which would lead to other problems, from ecosystem stability to food production and human conflict.

“Deforestation disrupts weather patterns and the water cycle, contributes to climate change, and destroys the habitats of important species. Chemicals and waste are polluting the air, soil and water, killing millions each year,” the department said in a statement.

Cimatu said major environmental protection programs like solid waste management, reforestation and biodiversity conservation, must be consistent with the overall response to COVID-19, future pandemics and climate crisis.

“The government—through the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR—will prioritize actions and investments that will reduce long-term health impacts and increase our resilience and adaptive capacity to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change,” he said.

Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

UN warns of 3.2C temperature rise despite Paris Agreement

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2019

Geneva – The average global temperature will rise 3.2C by the end of the century even if countries fulfill their commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change, which sought to limit the increase to under 1.5C above preindustrial levels, according to the United Nations on Tuesday.

“The summary of the findings are bleak,” the UN Environment Programme said in the introduction to its annual Emission Gap Report, which analyses current climate change policies and how they diverge from the kind of measures that need to be adopted to curb global warming.

According to the report, there must be a collective effort to reduce emissions by 7.6 percent a year between 2020 and 2030 to keep global temperatures under 1.5C above preindustrial levels, a fivefold increase in the efforts initially set out by the Paris Agreement.

UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Anderson, said: “Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over 7 percent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade.”

“We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”

According to the report, if current unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions are fully implemented, there was still only a 66 percent chance that warming would be limited to 3.2C by the end of the century.

It concluded that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases increased 1.5 percent annually in the last decade and reached historical levels of 55.3 gigatons of CO2 equivalent in 2018.

China was responsible for 13 of those gigatons but the Asian giant, the world’s second-largest economy, is not yet obliged to reduce its emissions in absolute terms as per the Paris Agreement due to its status as a developing country.

Second in regards to emissions was the United States with six gigatons. President Donald Trump withdrew the country from the Paris Agreement in 2017.

Emissions must be curbed by 15 gigatons by 2030 to achieve the 2C goal or 32 gigatons to hit the 1.5C target, the report said.

UNEP said that if current trends continued, then global temperatures could rise by 3.9C, although pledges to reduce emissions, such as the European Union’s target to curb them by 40 percent by 2030, could limit it to 3.2C, which is still insufficient.

The UN’s Secretary-General, António Guterres, said: “There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution.”

Recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special reports said there would be dire consequences of inaction if the global temperature rises are not held below the 1.5C target.

The UNEP report on the emissions gap will be used as a template for discussions at the upcoming COP25 meeting in Madrid, conducted under the presidency this year of Chile. EFE-EPA

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