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This Week in Sustainability News – 29.07

Learn about the global lag in updating emissions goals, the impact of climate change on Europe’s economy, cascading climate risks, and the invasive species costing nations billions, with our summary of this week's sustainability news.

This past week was filled with interesting sustainability and climate news, we’ve summarised the top stories below.

Lag in updating emissions goals puts climate targets at risk

  • Following last year’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, only 16 out of the 197 member countries have updated their emissions goals. Experts warn that this delay may pose a threat to international climate targets.
  • Many are concerned that, as November’s COP27 summit draws nearer, progress will be stifled if member countries fail to update their goals and contributions.
  • Critics have blamed these failures on the UK government, accusing the government of neglecting the responsibilities of its COP26 presidency.
  • “This zombie government has failed to persuade the vast majority of nations to update their climate targets, and is refusing to use the tools available to it to make this happen.”

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Extreme heat exacerbates Europe’s struggling economy

  • The impacts of climate change have been felt across Europe this summer, with extreme heat and dryness compounding issues for economies and businesses across the continent.
  • In Germany, the Rhine river’s water levels have reduced so significantly that shipping has been disrupted. The river is crucial for coal, grain, and chemical transportation, making its disruption a big issue for supply chains.
  • Warm water temperatures across France are interfering with energy production, as power plants rely on river water for cooling. Warm waters are also expected to impact hydropower production across Europe.
  • In Italy, the worst drought in 70 years is impacting the production of vital crops.
  • Experts argue these climate-related issues threaten to further raise inflation as countries across Europe struggle to cope with rising food and fuel prices.
  • Estimates show that between 1980 and 2020, countries in Europe have lost between €450 billion – €520 billion due to extreme weather and climate events. This toll is expected to increase in the coming years.

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World ‘unprepared’ for cascading climate risks

  • Verisk Maplecroft’s 2022 Environmental Risk Outlook report stresses that the world is ‘unprepared’ for the magnitude of cascading climate risks.
  • The analysis categorised countries based on their resilience to cascading climate risks, which include civil unrest, food insecurity, mass migration, political instability and worsening human rights.
  • While governments across the world are becoming increasingly prepared for the physical threats posed by climate change, they mostly remain blind to the secondary, cascading risks.
  • This ignorance is not limited to governments, the report suggests that most businesses are also failing to factor cascading climate risks into their scenario analysis and risk management approaches.
  • The report recommends that business and investment strategies should be stress tested against high-impact scenarios, which will enable businesses to better prepare for these risks.

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Invasive frogs and snakes cost economy almost £14 billion

  • Researchers have found that from 1986-2020, invasive amphibian and reptile species have cost the world almost £14 billion.
  • While there are over 1000 known occurrences of alien amphibian and reptile species worldwide, the majority of the costs were associated with two species: the brown tree snake and the American bullfrog.
  • The researchers found that the economic costs relating to invasive amphibian species were highest in Europe, reaching almost £5 billion. For reptiles, the highest costs were found to be in Oceania and the Pacific Islands at £8 billion.
  • The researchers state that invasion rates are expected to increase in future, with climate change making certain regions more vulnerable. They stress that countries should invest in prevention and early detection measures to reduce future costs and damages to ecosystems.

Learn more

More from around the web:

Experts warn UK to prepare for future wildfires, stating fire services need to “recognise the risk they’ve now got”. Read more

UK weather forecasters ‘trolled’ after linking heat waves to climate change. Read more

Temperatures are getting hotter faster than scientists’ tools can calculate. Read more

US could pass their most ambitious climate action bill yet. Read more

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