Since the industrial revolution fossil fuels have propelled technological, social and economic progress. However, this has come at a substantial environmental cost. Now, with Covid-19 rocking the global economy there are signs that we may have reached a historic moment when demand for oil finally peaks and our energy paradigm shifts. Scientists and policymakers are being joined by investors who see economic opportunities in a clean energy revolution.

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Photo by Samyag Shah on Unsplash

Volatility in oil prices, mixed with increasingly aggressive legislation that makes fossil fuels less attractive for investors, is driving the transition to a new energy paradigm. Long accused of being too expensive and non-competitive, the global market is finally opening its doors to renewables as an economically viable solution to our climate related predicaments. …


The return of science as a major player in decision making processes, a new US administration that values climate action and a shift in public and private perceptions of climate change. 2021 could be a breakwater moment for planetary wellbeing.

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Ever since 1995 policymakers, researchers, business leaders, activists and journalists have gathered for the annual end of year climate summit. An opportunity to set the tone for the new year and ensure that climate objectives are on track.

This year public health concerns prevented COP26 from taking place, delaying it to November 2021. However, policymakers are not throwing in the towel when it comes to advancing climate goals, with many countries updating their NDCs and the incumbent US administration vowing to take a leading role as a climate actor.

Notwithstanding the lack of a COP in 2020, leaders have found other ways to convene and discuss climate objectives. On the 12 December, on the fifth anniversary of the Paris accord, the UN, United Kingdom, and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy, co-convened a high-level event to mobilize commitments for addressing the global climate challenge which resulted in 75 countries updating their climate pledges. Although still short of what is needed to meet the Paris agreement objectives it has been heralded as a decisive step in the right direction. …


In a world where organizers are having to re-think in-person meetings, the UN Climate Dialogues seek to bring Parties and stakeholders together in new and innovative ways so as to build momentum for upcoming climate negotiations. Hidden in this challenge is a new opportunity: “Digitalising climate summits can represent a first step towards a more inclusive and accessible model of cooperation on climate change”, explains CMCC researcher Elisa Calliari.

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The Covid pandemic has forced the world to adopt unprecedented health and safety measures that, amongst other things, have altered the way large multilateral negotiations take place. Although in-person meetings throughout 2020 were all but impossible, momentum for lowering emissions and increasing ambition in the struggle against climate change has kept going. Not least of which through virtual meetings such as the UNFCCC’s June momentum for Climate Change conference which was conducted entirely online. Setting an important precedent for the digitalization of climate dialogues.

More recently, the Race-to-Zero November Dialogues saw Parties and stakeholders convene online to discuss progress with regards to a zero-carbon emissions future and, a few weeks later, the UNFCCC Climate Dialogues took place from 23 Nov — Dec 4 (also online), with the purpose of further advancing climate negotiations due to the postponement of COP26. These climate dialogues are setting the stage for the Ambition Summit and the Anniversary of the Paris Agreement on 12 December with negotiators managing to meet notwithstanding the lack of face-to-face interactions. …


“Green and growth can go hand-in-hand.” These are the words of the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who recently rolled out his ten-point plan for a greener Britain. Wind turbines, technological advancement and moving on from fossil fuels are the backbone of his rhetoric. How will this be achieved? Will it be enough to meet the island nation’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050?

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Just last year Britain enshrined net zero emissions by 2050 as a legally binding target and since then many have questioned how this will be achieved. The new ten-point plan aims to provide the framework for this transition and adds Britain to the list of countries currently seeking to improve their climate ambition and link “green” with “growth”. …


More than 600 million people at risk. Strategies and solutions require close collaboration between policy-makers and scientists working together to focus on both the local scale and the broader picture. With some key concepts at the core of their collaboration such as multi-risk, cross-sectoral approach and systemic vision. Not to mention the paradox of “maladaptation”.

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Rising sea levels is one of the risks that people most commonly associate with global warming, with more than 600 million people (around 10% of the world’s population) living in coastal areas that are less than 10 meters above sea level. A heating world leads to thermal expansion of water (water expands as it gets warmer) and land-based ice melting, which in turn brings our oceans to eat up more and more land. Finding solutions to this problem is a complex issue that requires researchers and policymakers to look at the broader picture when addressing both adaptation and mitigation measures.

“What we need is a cross-sectoral approach that faces and solves problems related to sea level rise with a systemic vision of risks that then shares possible actions between different actors. …


After China, it is now the turn of Japan and South Korea: are we on the brink of a domino effect?
The newly appointed Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, used his first Diet policy speech to promise net zero emissions by 2050. Reaching this goal will require fundamental changes and reveals a welcome shift in Japanese climate ambition. A move that was soon echoed by President Moon Jae-in who also formally committed to lead South Korea to net zero emissions by 2050.

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Photo by Daryan Shamkhali on Unsplash

Japan was subject to intense criticism in the early months of 2020 for its failure to update its NDCs. Since then the country has stepped up its rhetoric the new prime ministers, Yoshihide Suga, used his first Diet policy speech to announce Japan’s intention to go climate neutral by 2050, joining an exclusive club of around 30 other countries and regions (including the EU) that have set the net zero target by 2050.

Response to global warming is no longer a constraint on economic growth. We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Japan to net zero by 2050, that is, carbon neutral by 2050, and aim to achieve a decarbonized society […] fundamentally shift the long-standing policy on coal-fired power generation.


Climate change leads to an increase in extreme weather events and now scientists are working on ways to predict and prepare for them. New research on megastorms provides tools for forecasting their direction and intensity, thus helping communities better prepare for when they hit.

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Photo by Michael D on Unsplash

Predicting how extreme weather events such as megastorms will travel and evolve could help save countless lives as it gives communities time to better prepare. With the likelihood of these events increasing due to climate change it is important that effective forecasting systems are developed.

Although it is hard to link single weather events to climate change, there is a scientific consensus that a warming world does make extreme weather events more likely. What is commonly referred to as “extreme event attribution” is the study of the relationship between climate change and weather patterns. …


Major players in the oil industry predict that the demand for plastics will continue to grow exponentially in the coming decades, therefore allocating over 400 billion USD in new investments for petrochemical plants and equipment. However, legislation that aims to regulate plastic use and waste could jeopardise these plans and research indicates that the production of plastics may peak by 2027. The future of plastics has never been so uncertain.

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In 1907 Leo Baekeland invented Bakelite, the first fully synthetic and mass-produced plastic. From then on this revolutionary material has continued to play an ever-larger role in our daily lives. Plastics have challenged and conquered the supremacy of a wide range of traditional materials, becoming ubiquitous in modern-day society. However, in recent times environmental concerns are starting to make the future of plastics ever more uncertain.

Plastics have not always been associated with pollution and environmental harm. They proved to be a lifesaver for a long list of materials that were being put under increasing pressure due to growing demand. …


Whales are a key component in ensuring planetary equilibrium. One of their least appreciated contributions is their positive impact on carbon sequestration. Protecting whales not only helps reach climate objectives but can also shed new light on the value of nature-based solutions.

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Photo by Cameron Venti on Unsplash

Killing the world’s largest animal grew into a global trade in the sixteenth century when Basque whalers developed important technological improvements that allowed for commercial whaling. Since then whales have been driven to the brink of extinction, a process that came to its corollary in the mid 20th century when whalers, anticipating a rise in the price of whale oil due to future scarcity, went after calves, hunted out of season and sailed into sanctuaries. …


Collaborations, connections, community, engagement, concerted efforts. For a sustainable and climate-resilient future, what needs to shift is human behaviour and human perception. Kirsten Dunlop, CEO at EIT Climate-KIC, on the benefits of linking human and planetary health when designing systemic change through innovation that leads us out of the current crisis. Dealing with “climate change is not about finding and implementing the right solutions”.

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While dealing with the short-term challenges related to the current crisis, the world is looking ahead to the long-term challenges to follow, including climate change. The innovation needed today to decarbonise our world brings unprecedented opportunities for economies and societies. However, finding the right recipes for single problems is not enough: innovation must lead to systemic change. We asked Kirsten Dunlop, CEO at EIT Climate-KIC — a Knowledge and Innovation Community working to accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient society — how today’s actions can drive the shift we need, especially in Europe.

About

Cmcc

Euro-Mediterranean Center on #ClimateChange: integrated, multi-disciplinary and frontier research on climate science and policy.

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