State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Climate News Roundup: Week of 4/24

Carbon emissions ‘hidden’ in imported goods revealed, BBC, Apr. 25

Two recent studies present that the amount of carbon dioxide emissions “hidden” in imported goods is increasing. These emissions are not currently included in national estimates. “There is a degree of delusion about emissions cuts in developed nations. They are not really cuts at all if countries are simply buying in products they used to manufacture,” said a member of Cicero, the research group heading one of the reports. In fact, the second report presents that accounting for imported goods, UK emissions have actually increased since 1990. The study also predicts that future import-based increases will continue to offset planned emissions cuts into the 2020s.

Rising seas scariest climate impact: Nauru’s Moses, Reuters, Apr. 26

Marlene Moses, the U.N. ambassador of the Pacific island state of Nauru, told Reuters that sea level rise is “the most terrifying of all climate change impacts,” equating the size of the security threat posed by the rise to that of an invading army. Nauru was recently chosen to take over as chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in late 2011. Under the country’s leadership, AOSIS aims to achieve an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, along with the pursuit of even deeper emissions cuts, an increase in climate finance from developed nations, and the development of insurance mechanisms to help protect nations, such as Small Island States, that are vulnerable to the changing climate.

No binding climate deal at Durban, warn US, EU, AFP, Apr. 27

Top climate officials from both the United States and the European Union announced that a legally binding international climate deal limiting greenhouse gas emissions will not be formed at this year’s UN climate summit in Durban. The announcement came after the 2-day meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. US official Todd Stern explained that not all major players are ready for such obligations, naming China, India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa. He also pointed out that US ratification is “a big hill to climb.”  “The good news is that there is a general recognition of the necessity of a legally-binding agreement,” EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

Could a Leaking Ocean Current Keep Europe Toasty?, NY Times, Apr. 28

A new study challenges the theory that global warming may destabilize the Gulf Stream, the ocean current that carries tropical waters north, warming Western Europe. The research proposes that climate change may already be leading to increased “leakage” from the lesser-known Algulhas Current, and that this leakage may help offset a weakening Gulf Stream and keep the northward flow of warmer waters in balance. These findings could have serious implications for climate model projections. In current models, a weakened Gulf Stream leads to cooler North Atlantic waters, partially offsetting the effects of climate change in North America and Europe.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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