B.C. Climate News July 4 to July 10

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Here’s your weekly update with what you need to know about global climate change and the steps B.C. is taking to address the climate and ecological crises for the week of July 4 to July 10, 2022.

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This week in climate news:

• All 11 victims of the Italian glacier collapse have been identified.
• Portugal is on a wildfire alert amid a heat wave and severe drought.
• A new survey suggests more than half of Canadians consider the climate crisis when deciding where to move.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned for a decade that wildfires, drought, severe weather, such as B.C.’s deadly heat dome in June, and flooding would become more frequent and more intense because of the climate crisis.

Last August, it issued a “code red” for humanity and earlier this year the panel, made up of hundreds of scientists from around the world, said the window to stop global warming from exceeding 1.5 C was closing.

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Last month, it released a report with solutions for how to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, mainly by transitioning away from fossil fuels.

There is a global scientific consensus on climate change. Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that human activities are the primary cause of global warming.

Check back here every Saturday for a roundup of the latest climate and environmental stories. You can also get up to date B.C.-focussed news delivered to your inbox by 7 a.m. by subscribing to our newsletter here.

A glance at B.C.’s carbon numbers:

  • B.C.’s gross greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2019 (latest available data:) 68.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e.) This is an increase of 3.0 MtCO2e, or 5 per cent since 2007, the baseline year.
  • B.C.’s net emissions in 2019: 67.2 MtCO2e, an increase of 1.5 MtCO2e, or two per cent, since 2007.
  • B.C.’s 2030 target: 40 per cent reduction in net emissions below 2007 levels.
  • B.C.’s 2040 target: 60 per cent reduction.
  • B.C.’s 2050 target: 80 per cent reduction.
  • Canada’s 2030 emissions target: Between 40 and 45 per cent reduction.
  • Canada’s 2050 emissions target: Net-zero.

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Climate change quick facts:

  • The Earth is now about 1.1 C warmer than it was in the 1800s.
  • Globally, 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record.
  • Human activities have raised atmospheric concentrations of COby nearly 49 per cent above pre-industrial levels starting in 1850.
  • The world is not on track to meet the Paris Agreement target to keep global temperature from exceeding 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, the upper limit to avoid the worst fallout from climate change.
  • 2015-2019 were the five warmest years on record while 2010-2019 was the warmest decade on record.
  • On the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, the temperature could increase by as much as 4.4 C by the end of the century.
  • In April, 2022 greenhouse gas concentrations reached record new highs and show no sign of slowing.
  • Emissions must drop 7.6 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030 to keep temperatures from exceeding 1.5 C and 2.7 per cent per year to stay below 2 C.
  • 97% of climate scientists agree that the climate is warming and that human beings are the cause.

(Source: United Nations IPCC, World Meteorological Organization,UNEP, Nasa, climatedata.ca)

Source: NASA
Source: NASA

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EU warns of dire climate season ahead with droughts, fires

The European Union’s executive warned on Thursday that the continent is facing one of its toughest years when it comes to natural disasters like droughts and wildfires because of increasing climate change.

With extremely dry weather hitting several Mediterranean nations, EU Commissioner MaroÅ¡ Å efčovič told legislators on Thursday that “the present drought in Europe could become the worst ever.” Fires ravaging huge swaths of countryside only acerbate the climate crisis, he said.

“Statistics show that since 2017, we have the most intense, intense forest fires ever seen in Europe. And that we unfortunately expect the 2022 forest fire season could follow this trend,” he said.

Extended drought conditions have hit several member states like Greece and Italy and a heat wave last month went as far up as northern Germany. It heightened concerns across Europe for more disasters for the rest of the summer.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

B.C. conservation officers decontaminate barge with ‘largest of its kind’ invasive mussels species

Inspectors with B.C.’s Conservation Officer Service have decontaminated a barge with what the B.C. government is calling the “largest of its kind” invasive mussels species.

According to a news release Saturday from B.C.’s Environment Ministry, inspectors tracked down the trucking company and its load, a massive barge being transported in two 12 metres sections, each three metres high.

The barge had travelled from Lake Ontario and was destined for industrial use in a Lower Mainland waterway.

The load was redirected to a Richmond warehouse for a full decontamination, which was the largest of its kind for invasive zebra mussels since the program started in 2015, according to the government.

The government says COS Aquatic Invasive Species inspectors used specialized equipment to remove thousands of invasive mussels during over two days.

“This was the largest, most significant discovery of zebra mussels on a watercraft our teams had ever experienced. To decontaminate the vessel, we required a specialized operational plan and space due to the sheer size,” said COS AIS Insp. Dave Webster,” in a statement.

The decontaminated barge was issued a mandatory 30-day quarantine period, which ended this week.

—Tiffany Crawford

Climate crisis a consideration for more than half of Canadians when buying a home: poll

More than half of Canadians say climate change is a factor in their decision about where to buy a home, according to a new poll conducted for a real estate company.

The survey, conducted by Leger for Re/Max Canada, found 57 per cent of the Canadians surveyed said possible climate catastrophes such as severe flooding, wildfires, and drought are being considered when deciding where to move.

The poll was included in the real estate agency’s report on climate change, which notes that already up to 10 per cent of homes in Canada are uninsurable because of flooding risk.

Nearly half—49 per cent— of respondents are worried about the impact that forest fires, flooding and other climate change-related events will have on their neighbourhood and community over the next five years.

Read the full story here.

—Tiffany Crawford

All 11 victims of Italian glacier collapse identified, authorities say

Italian police on Saturday confirmed 11 people died when a glacier collapsed in the Alps in an incident being blamed on rising temperatures.

Rescue teams had feared a 12th person could have been killed, but now say there is no reason to believe the toll will be higher.

The Fassa Valley was holding a day of mourning to honor those who killed in the avalanche on Sunday on the Marmolada, which at more than 3,300 meters (10,830 feet) is the highest peak in the Dolomites, a range in the eastern Italian Alps straddling the regions of Trento and Veneto.

Much of Italy has been hit by an early-summer heatwave and scientists said climate change was making previously stable glaciers more unpredictable.

“We can say we have been very quick in completing our work and reaching a final tally of 11 deaths,” Giampietro Lago, the head of a scientific police unit drafted to help with the identification process, told a news conference.


Portugal on wildfire alert amid heat wave and severe drought

Portugal’s government on Friday declared an eight-day state of alert due to a heightened risk of wildfires, as the drought-stricken country prepares for a heat wave packing temperatures as high as 43 degrees Celsius (109 degrees Fahrenheit).

The torrid weather brings with it “a significant worsening of the wildfire risk” through July 15, a joint statement from five government departments said.

Declaring a state of alert gives the government temporary authority to order precautionary measures. The restrictions adopted Friday include barring public access to forests deemed to be at special risk, banning the use of farm machinery that might produce sparks, and outlawing fireworks that are commonly used at summer festivals.

Portugal has long experienced dramatic forest fires. In 2017, blazes killed more than 100 people.

Heat waves and droughts also aren’t uncommon in Portugal, but climate scientists say all of southern Europe can expect higher temperatures and lower rainfall as a consequence of global warming.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Court blocks Pennsylvania’s carbon emissions plan

A state court temporarily blocked Pennsylvania from participating in a regional carbon pricing program to combat climate change, ruling Friday in favour of coal-related interests that argue the administration of Gov. Tom Wolf is seeking to impose an unlawful tax.

Commonwealth Court granted a preliminary injunction that prohibits the Wolf administration from “implementing, administering, or enforcing” the carbon-pricing policy, which is meant to curb power plants’ emissions of carbon dioxide and has long been the centre piece of the Democratic governor’s plan to fight global warming.

The Wolf administration said it will appeal to the state Supreme Court.

Wolf made Pennsylvania the first major fossil fuel state to adopt a carbon pricing policy, in which power plants fuelled by coal, oil and natural gas are required to buy a credit for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Pennsylvania is one of the nation’s biggest polluters and power producers.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Report: Europe’s banks need to raise game on climate risk

Europe’s banks aren’t sufficiently considering risks from climate change and must “urgently step up efforts” to make sure they understand the possible impact of floods, wildfires and losses on investments.

That was a key conclusion from a climate stress test on 104 banks run by the European Central Bank and released Friday.

The ECB said that for now the climate stress test was a learning exercise that would not result in requiring banks to strengthen their financial buffers against possible losses from borrowers who can’t pay.

But the bank’s supervisory arm warned that as things stand now, 60 per cent of the 104 surveyed banks have no framework for assessing the impact of climate risk on their financial solidity, and only 20 per cent consider climate risk when granting loans.

Banks in southern Europe were more exposed to risks from heat and drought that could hit construction and agricultural businesses, the report indicated.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Wild species relied on by billions at risk, report warns

Every day billions of people depend on wild flora and fauna to obtain food, medicine and energy. But a new United Nations-backed report says that overexploitation, climate change, pollution and deforestation are pushing one million species towards extinction.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – or IPBES – report said Friday that unless humankind improves the sustainable use of nature, the Earth is on its way to losing 12% of its wild tree species, over a thousand wild mammal species and almost 450 species of sharks and rays, among other irreparable harm.

Humans use about 50,000 wild species routinely and 1 out of 5 people of the world’s 7.9 billion population depend on those species for food and income, the report said. 1 in 3 people rely on fuel wood for cooking, the number even higher in Africa.

“It’s essential that those uses be sustainable because you need them to be there for your children and grandchildren. So when uses of wild species become unsustainable, it’s bad for the species, it’s bad for the ecosystem and it’s bad for the people,” report co-chair Marla R. Emery of the United States told The Associated Press.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Volvo Cars to leave ACEA car lobby group over climate goals

Volvo Cars said on Friday it will leave the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) by the end of 2022, citing differences between its zero-emission strategy and that of Europe’s car lobby group.

The Swedish carmaker has committed to having a fully-electric car range by 2030, well ahead of the European Union’s proposal for an effective ban on fossil-fuel cars as of 2035.

Volvo has been a proponent of moving more swiftly to zero-emission transport, but after the EU parliament voted in June in favor of the 2035 deadline the ACEA said that “any long-term regulation going beyond this decade is premature at this early stage.”

In a statement Volvo said “we have concluded that Volvo Cars’ sustainability strategy and ambitions are not fully aligned with ACEA’s positioning and way of working at this stage.”

Read the full story here.


Presbyterians agree to divest from fossil fuel companies

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has opted to pull investments from five energy corporations, joining other faith-based groups in targeting fossil-fuel companies over what they say are failures to address climate change.

The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting online, voted overwhelmingly this week for a resolution targeting Chevron, ExxonMobil, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, and Valero Energy for divestment.

Presbyterian officials have in recent years sought to persuade several fossil fuel companies to take steps to reduce greenhouse gases. The resolution said these efforts “did not produce enough substantial change or movement” by the five corporations now targeted for divestment.

The church’s investments are a small fraction of a percent of the five corporations’ market capitalization. But supporters of divestment said it would send a message and help spur corporations to change policies in response to climate change.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press

Yellowstone floods reveal forecasting flaws in warming world

The Yellowstone National Park area’s weather forecast the morning of June 12 seemed fairly tame: warmer temperatures and rain showers would accelerate mountain snow melt and could produce “minor flooding.” A National Weather Service bulletin recommended moving livestock from low-lying areas but made no mention of danger to people.

By nightfall, after several inches of rain fell on a deep spring snowpack, there were record-shattering floods.

Torrents of water poured off the mountains. Swollen rivers carrying boulders and trees smashed through Montana towns over the next several days. The flooding swept away houses, wiped out bridges and forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 tourists, park employees and residents near the park.

As a cleanup expected to last months grinds on, climate experts and meteorologists say the gap between the destruction and what was forecast underscores a troublesome aspect of climate change: Models used to predict storm impacts do not always keep up with increasingly devastating rainstorms, hurricanes, heat waves and other events.

Read the full story here.

—The Associated Press


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