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New initiative targets 2020 in race to tackle dangerous Climate Change
by UNFCCC News, WMO, Agencies
28 April, 2017
World Meteorological Organization: 50-60% chance of El Nino later this year. (WMO)
There is a 50-60% chance of an El Niño event forming in middle to late 2017, according to a new Update from the World Meteorological Organization.
The El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a naturally occurring phenomenon involving fluctuating ocean temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, coupled with changes in the atmosphere. It has a major influence on weather patterns in many parts of the world and has a warming impact on global air temperatures..
Many of the climate models surveyed indicate that basin-wide neutral conditions will persist through to June 2017. The subsequent development of an El Nino during the second half of 2017 is more likely than the continuation of neutral conditions.
“Memories are still fresh of the powerful 2015-2016 El Nino which was associated with droughts, flooding and coral bleaching in different parts of the world and which, combined with long-term climate change, lead to increase of global temperatures to new record highs in both 2015 and 2016,” said Maxx Dilley, director of WMOs Climate Prediction and Adaptation division.
“Accurate predictions of the most recent El Niño saved untold lives. Our greatly improved ability to forecast El Nino and La Nina events contributes to the public good and is essential for the agricultural and food security sectors, for management of water resources and public health, as well as for disaster risk reduction,” said Mr Dilley.
The effects on regional climate of each El Niño event are never exactly the same: they depend on the intensity of the event, the time of year when it develops and the interaction with other climate patterns.
It is important to note also that El Nino and La Nina are not the only factors that drive global climate patterns. For example, sea surface temperatures of the Indian Ocean, the southeastern Pacific Ocean and the Tropical Atlantic Ocean are also known to influence the climate in the adjacent land areas.
More detailed interpretations of regional climate variability will be generated routinely by the climate forecasting community over the coming months and will be made available through the WMO Regional Climate Centres and National Meteorological and Hydrological Services.
(The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water)
12 Apr 2017
Climate Change Impacts Human Health
A new UN report says that health risks related to climate change are on the rise worldwide. At the same time, coordinated international responses can help prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change on health.
Youssef Nassef, Director of the Adaptation Programme of the UNFCCC secretariat, says: “the report clearly highlights the need for the UN and partners to continuously strengthen their actions to support governments to build climate resilience, including measures to protect human health.”
The report will be presented to governments during the next round of climate change negotiations to be held in Bonn from 8-18 May 2017.
It was prepared in collaboration with countries, the World Health Organization and other relevant expert organizations, under the Nairobi work programme UN Knowledge for Action Climate Resilience Network. Below follows an overview of the report’s main findings.
Climate change is expected to exacerbate health problems that already pose a major burden to vulnerable populations
The report shares at least five major insights:
1. Certain groups have higher susceptibility to climate-sensitive health impacts owing to their age (children and elderly), gender (particularly pregnant women), social marginalization (associated in some areas with indigenous populations, poverty or migration status), or other health conditions like HIV. The socioeconomic costs of health problems caused by climate change are considerable.
2. Many infectious diseases, including water-borne ones, are highly sensitive to climate conditions. Figure 1 illustrates the correlation between temperature and diarrhea. A main concern in both developed and developing countries was the increase in and increased geographical spread of diarrhoeal diseases, the report found.
3. Climate change lengthens the transmission season and expands the geographical range of many diseases like malaria and dengue. For example, the conditions for dengue transmission are likely to expand significantly across the globe.
4. Climate change will bring new and emerging health issues, including heatwaves and other extreme events. Heat stress can make working conditions unbearable and increase the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory and renal diseases.
Additionally, it is estimated that 22.5 million people are displaced annually by climate or weather-related disasters, and these figures are expected to increase in the future. Climate-induced human mobility has a socioeconomic cost and can affect mental and physical health.
5. Malnutrition and undernutrition were highlighted as a concern for a number of developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which discussed the impacts of climate change on food security, particularly in relation to floods and drought.
April 10, 2017
A group of leading climate experts today identified the year 2020 as a game changing opportunity to turn the tide on the devastating impacts of carbon emissions.
Convened by Christiana Figueres - former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) the group met in London to encourage urgent action in the next three years.
The aim is to protect the remaining window of opportunity to protect vulnerable populations from the worst impacts of climate change and safeguard the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Drawing on findings from a newly published report - “2020: The Climate Turning Point” - the campaign will highlight why the 2020 turning point is necessary, and importantly how it can be realistically achieved.
The new report, a collaboration between Yale University, Carbon Tracker and Climate Action Tracker (a consortium of Ecofys, New Climate Institute and Climate Analytics), with a contribution by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, summarises the most up to date scientific basis for urgent action to reduce carbon emissions and provides a roadmap of action to 2020.
What needs to happen by 2020?
In the next three years, businesses, investors and policy makers need to take bold, but achievable steps so that major milestones are reached by 2020.
A wide range of sectors have a role to play so that by 2020:
Energy: Renewables outcompete fossil fuels as new electricity sources worldwide.
Transport: Zero emission transport is the preferred form of all new mobility in the world’s major cities and transport routes
Infrastructure: Cities and states have established plans and are implementing policies and regulations with the aim to fully decarbonise infrastructure by 2050
Land Use: Large-scale deforestation is replaced by large-scale land restoration and agriculture shifts to earth friendly practices
Industry: Heavy industry - including iron & steel, cement, chemicals, and oil & gas - commits to being Paris compliant
Finance: Investment in climate action is beyond USD $1trillion per year and all financial institutions have a disclosed transition strategy
Christiana Figueres explained the urgency behind the 2020 milestones: “Everyone has a right to prosper, and if emissions do not begin their rapid decline by 2020, the world’s most vulnerable people will suffer even more from the devastating impacts of climate change. Science tells us this is our imperative, technology shows us we have what it takes, the economics are pointing us in the right direction and the benefits to humanity will be immense. This is no time to waver.
What has been missing since Paris is a near term focal point for action, which is why we have brought together some of the best minds on the subject to collectively demonstrate that the arc of transformation to a fossil free energy system is possible.
We have a collective responsibility to raise ambition, scale up our actions and move forward faster together to safeguard the sustainable development goals and protect the inalienable right to life of our and future generations. Let’s not be late.”
The rallying cry comes in the wake of the US President’s recent Executive Order to roll back many of the Obama Administration’s climate change regulations, including the Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants, which has caused wide spread concern.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): "The Paris Agreement expresses the determination of the world to work together to solve the climate change challenge. It is a unique opportunity for collaborative action at the highest level supported by communities, cities, companies and citizens from all over the globe. Limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees C and realising the full potential of Paris means global emissions need to decline rapidly and as soon as possible. This will be key towards ending poverty, supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and unlocking the inordinate opportunities from this transformation.”
Professor Nicholas Stern, Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science and President of the British Academy: “This report correctly identifies 2020 as a key milestone which will indicate whether we are on the path to realising the goals of the Paris Agreement. If the Paris target of holding global temperature increase to “well below 2.C” is to be met, there must be an acceleration around the world of the transition to low-carbon growth and development.
This must occur at the same time as total infrastructure will likely more than double in the next two decades. Delay will increase the risks of lock-in to a high-carbon path that will make the Paris Agreement goals much more difficult and expensive to achieve. Leadership by national and local governments and businesses over the next three years can put us on the right path to a safer and more prosperous world.
It is increasingly recognised around the world that there are potentially great attractive gains to growth and prosperity from a new low-carbon path, but the urgency for acceleration is intense.”
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP): "We know the problem and we know the solutions, but we are not out of danger yet. We agreed in Paris to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees. To accomplish this we must implement solutions urgently and raise the bar of what we think we can do. Seeing emissions start to decline by 2020 is the right ambition to keep our planet safe and healthy.”
Professor Niklas Höhne, NewClimate Institute and Wageningen University: “Early signs of globally declining coal use, as well as faster than expected uptake of renewable energy and electric cars, make me hopeful that the turning point of global energy related CO2 emissions by 2020 is within reach. Such a peak is vital to reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement has set a new level of ambition: greenhouse gas emissions need to decline to zero. Not just a reduction by a percentage, but to zero. This is only possible by introducing zero emission technology such as renewable energy or electric cars already today so that they will have replaced already installed old technology by the middle of the century.”
Professor Johan Rockström, Director, Stockholm Resilience Centre: “There is a real scientific nervousness that if we exceed 2°C we risk crossing a tipping point that would irreversibly trigger self-reinforcing warming and unstoppable human impacts. Humanity’s most important mission is to veer away from this road, and transform the world to a thriving, clean, healthy, and sustainable world.
We need to bend the global curve of emissions no later than 2020 and achieve a world economy free of fossil-fuels by 2050. The evidence grows day-by-day that a decarbonised world is a more attractive world.”
Professor John Schellnhuber, Founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU): "Each and every scientific assessment demonstrates that limiting global warming to well below 2°C - as envisaged by the Paris Agreement - can only be achieved if we start decarbonising the world economy NOW. Geoengineering ourselves out of climate disaster later is nothing more than a dangerous illusion. Yet governments will only pursue aggressive mitigation if they have the full backing of the ''new businesses'' who put long-term benefits above short-term profits.”
* 2020 The Climate Turning Point Report: Press headlines:
* WMO highlights Global Climate 2016:

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Nine-year-old sues Indian government over climate change inaction
by Reuters, Climate Central, CSE Webnet, agencies
April 2017
A nine-year-old girl has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government for failing to take action on climate change, warning that young people will pay the price for the country’s inaction.
In the petition filed with the National Green Tribunal, a special court for environment-related cases, Ridhima Pandey said the government had failed to implement its environment laws.
“As a young person [Ridhima] is part of a class that amongst all Indians is most vulnerable to changes in climate, yet are not part of the decision making process,” the 52-page petition reads. It calls on the tribunal to direct the government “to take effective, science-based action to reduce and minimise the adverse impacts of climate change”.
Speaking to the Independent in the UK, Ridhima said: “My government has failed to take steps to regulate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which are causing extreme climate conditions. This will impact both me and future generations.
“My country has huge potential to reduce the use of fossil fuels, and because of the government’s inaction I approached the National Green Tribunal.”
India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Central Pollution Control Board have been asked to respond within two weeks.
India has four of the 10 worst cities in the world in terms of air pollution. Together, India and China accounted for more than half the total number of global deaths attributable to air pollution in 2015, according to a recent study.
Greenpeace released a report in January estimating that nearly 1.2 million Indians die each year owing to high concentrations of airborne pollutants such as dust, mould spores, arsenic, lead, nickel and the carcinogen chromium.
At the time, India’s environment minister declared the report inconclusive, adding: “There is no conclusive data available in the country to establish direct correlation-ship of death exclusively with air pollution.”
Despite several laws to protect India’s forests, clean up its rivers and improve air quality, critics are concerned that implementation is poor and economic growth often takes precedence over the environment.
Flash floods and landslides in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, where Ridhima lives, killed hundreds of people and left tens of thousands homeless in 2013.
The devastation affected Ridhima, the daughter of an environmental activist, according to Rahul Choudhary, a lawyer representing her. “For someone so young, she is very aware of the issue of climate change and she is very concerned about how it will impact her in future,” he said.
“She wanted to do something that can have a meaningful effect, and we suggested she could file a petition against the government.”
India is taking some action on air quality. As a signatory to the Paris agreement on climate change, it is committed to ensuring that at least 40% of its electricity is generated from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030.
In her petition, Ridhima asks the court to order the government to assess industrial projects for climate-related issues, prepare a “carbon budget” to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and create a national climate recovery plan.
“That a young girl is doing so much to draw the government’s attention is something. We hope the case puts some pressure on the government to act,” said Choudhary.


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