- This weekly round-up brings you some of the top environmental stories from the past seven days.
- Headlines: Fiji defense minister warns climate change top security threat; Malala joins climate protests on Friday; Investors Push Global Plan on Agricultural Emissions; New Zealand sets a price for beef burps.
1. News in Brief: Top Environment and Climate Change stories to read this week
According to Fiji’s Defense Minister Inia Seruiratu, climate change poses the biggest security threat in the Asia-Pacific region. “In our blue Pacific continent, machine guns, fighter jets, gray ships and green battalions are not our main security concerns,” he said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s most important security meeting. “The biggest threat to our existence is climate change. It threatens our hopes and dreams of prosperity.”
Canada on June 8 introduced a greenhouse gas offset credit system, a key part of its carbon reduction plan, beginning with a set of rules that specify how projects can generate tradable credit by extracting gas from landfills . The government said protocols for four other sectors, including agriculture and forestry, were in the works. It will also begin developing protocols for the carbon capture technology that Canada’s polluting oil industry is banking on to cut its emissions this summer.
The Japanese government said June 7 it will urge households and businesses to conserve as much electricity as possible during the summer peak season to mitigate a potential blackout. The measure was set at a meeting of cabinet ministers as three regions, including Tokyo, are expected to see their excess generation capacity — the level below which supply shortages and blackouts are possible — drop to nearly 3% in July.
Investors managing $14 trillion have called on the United Nations to create a global plan to make the agricultural sector sustainable and curb one of the biggest sources of climate-damaging emissions, a letter from Reuters showed.
European Parliament lawmakers voted on June 8 for an effective EU ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, rejecting attempts to water down the proposal to speed up Europe’s switch to electric vehicles. The vote confirms a key pillar of the European Union’s plans to cut net planet-warming emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels – a target that requires faster reductions in emissions from industry, energy and transport.
Airborne surveys of methane plumes emitted from landfills, power plants and oil fields in California have resulted in a noticeable reduction in leaks of the potent greenhouse gas, the state’s Air Regulator and a nonprofit group said June 8.
2. “Educating girls is a climate solution”: Malala Yousafzai joins the climate protest
Fighting climate change is also a fight for girls’ right to education, millions of whom are losing access to schools due to climate-related events, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai told Reuters June 10.
Yousafzai was addressing the Swedish parliament, where she joined environmental activists Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate in one of the Friday climate protests that have been taking place there every week since 2018, sparking a global movement.
In 2012, the now 24-year-old survived being shot in the head by a Pakistani Taliban gunman after she was targeted for her campaign against Taliban efforts to deny women education. She subsequently became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to education.
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Due to climate-related events, millions of girls are losing access to schools. Events such as droughts and floods directly affect schools, due to some of these events displacements are caused,” Yousafzai said in an interview.
“That’s why girls are hit the hardest: they’re the first to drop out and the last to return.”
During the demonstration, Yousafzai shared a story about how her own education was disrupted by climate change when her school and many others in the area were flooded.
Yousafzai, Nakate and Thunberg all stressed that women, particularly in developing countries, have been disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and can be part of the solution if empowered through education.
3. New Zealand sets prices for sheep and cow burps to reduce greenhouse gases
New Zealand on June 8 published a draft plan to price agricultural emissions to tackle one of the country’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, burping sheep and cattle.
The proposal would make New Zealand, a major agricultural exporter, the first country where farmers have to pay for emissions from livestock, the environment ministry said.
New Zealand, home to 5 million people, has about 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep.
Nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, mostly methane, but agricultural emissions were previously exempted from the country’s emissions trading scheme, drawing criticism of the government’s commitment to curbing global warming.
Under the draft plan, drawn up by government and farming community officials, farmers will have to pay for their gas emissions from 2025. Short- and long-lived agricultural gas are priced separately, although a single measure is used to calculate their volume.
“There is no question that we need to reduce the amount of methane we put into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key role in how we do that,” said Climate Secretary James Shaw.