This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.
England likely to make official drought declaration
- Later today, it is likely England will be declared officially in drought, with hosepipe bans and stricter water restrictions anticipated to follow.
- England has just experienced its driest July since 1935 and the past nine months have been the driest in almost 50 years.
- The drought has not come as a surprise to experts, with scientists reporting that the intensity and scale of current heatwaves and droughts has been projected by climate research for years.
- The drought is likely to cause a variety of further issues including reduced crop yields and quality; increased crop prices; wildfires; and flash flooding.
Young adults take climate change case to European court of human rights
- After a five-year battle, a group of young Portuguese adults will be taking their climate change case to the European court of human rights later this year.
- The claimants’ case against 32 European countries argues that climate policies across Europe are inadequate to mitigate the harms presented by the climate crisis.
- They have argued that their rights, including their right to life, the right to respect for their private lives, and the right to not be discriminated against, are being interfered with by the climate crisis.
- If the claimants are successful in arguing their case, governments across Europe will be legally bound to improve their climate action and reduce emissions both at home and overseas.
Climate change can worsen over half of human diseases
- A study published this week in Nature has found that 58% of infectious diseases that affect humans are susceptible to aggravation by climate hazards.
- The researchers found that warming, precipitation, floods, drought, storms, land cover change, ocean change, fires, heatwaves, and sea level change all influenced diseases.
- They found that these climate impacts affected the spread of disease mostly through: 1) bringing pathogens closer to people, 2) bringing people closer to pathogens, and 3) strengthening pathogens.
Bringing pathogens closer to people
- Warming and precipitation were found to be associated with disease vectors including mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas increasing their geographical range, and therefore their capacity to spread disease.
- Warming was also found to allow pathogens and disease vectors to survive winters and to expose once-frozen pathogens through the thawing of permafrost.
Bringing people closer to pathogens
- Movement of humans through displacement (via floods, storms, and sea level rise) and through land use change was found to aggravate several pathogens.
- Climate impacts were also found to affect social behaviour, for example, heatwaves were found to increase participation in recreational water activities and therefore engender the spread of waterborne diseases.
- Climactic hazards were found to strengthen some pathogens by accelerating their life cycle, improving climate suitability for reproduction, increasing season lengths, and enhancing interactions between pathogens and vectors.
- The hazards were also found to increase the virulence (severity) of some pathogens.
Green and sustainability-linked bonds see steep growth
- Following a record year in 2021, 835 green bonds have been issued in the first half of 2022, raising $245 billion.
- The most rapid growth has been in sustainability-linked bonds (SLBs), which link financial and ESG performance through science-based targets and KPIs. In 2021, these bonds increased ten-fold.
- In the first half of 2022, SLB issuance has continued to rise, with funds raised increasing by 20% compared to the first half of 2021.
- Linklaters commented: “Climate is still very much at the top of the agenda as the pressure mounts on corporates and the financial sector alike to ‘walk the talk’ on their climate pledges”.
Swiss mountain to lose all ice for the first time in centuries
- Thick glacier ice which has covered a Swiss mountain pass for centuries is melting at an alarming rate, with experts reporting that it is likely to totally disappear within a few weeks.
- Ten years ago, the ice measured approximately 15 metres deep, but dry winters and summer heatwaves have reduced the ice to almost nothing.