Yearly emissions from crops and livestock and related land use, and share of agriculture in global GHG emissions from all sectors, 2000–2018.
  • This weekly round-up brings you some of the key environment stories from the past seven days.
  • Top stories: Fiji’s defence minister warns climate change is biggest security threat; Malala joins Friday climate protests; investors push for global plan on agriculture emissions; New Zealand to put a price on cattle burps.

1. News in brief: Top environment and climate change stories to read this week

According to Fiji’s defence minister, Inia Seruiratu, climate change poses the biggest security threat in the Asia-Pacific region. “In our blue Pacific continent, machine guns, fighter jets, grey ships and green battalions are not our primary security concern,” he said at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s top security meeting. “The single greatest threat to our very existence is climate change. It threatens our very hopes and dreams of prosperity.”

Canada launched a credit system for greenhouse gas offsets on 8 June, a major part of its plan to cut carbon emissions, starting with a set of rules stipulating how projects can generate tradeable credits by capturing gas from landfills. The government said protocols for four other sectors including agriculture and forest management are under way. It will also start developing protocols for carbon capture technology, which Canada’s high-polluting oil industry is betting on to slash its emissions, this summer.

The Japanese government said on 7 June it will ask households and companies to save as much electricity as possible during the peak summer demand season to alleviate a possible power crunch. The measure was set at a meeting of cabinet ministers as three regions, including Tokyo, are expected to see their excess generation capacity – the level below which supply shortages and blackouts are possible – falling to near 3% in July.

Investors managing $14 trillion have urged the United Nations to create a global plan to make the agriculture sector sustainable and curb one of the biggest sources of climate-damaging emissions, a letter seen by Reuters showed.

Yearly emissions from crops and livestock and related land use, and share of agriculture in global GHG emissions from all sectors, 2000–2018.

How agriculture emissions have changed over the past 20 years.

Image: FAO

European Parliament lawmakers on 8 June voted to support an effective EU ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035, rejecting attempts to weaken the proposal to speed Europe’s shift to electric vehicles. The vote upholds a key pillar of the European Union’s plans to cut net planet-warming emissions 55% by 2030, from 1990 levels – a target that requires faster emissions reductions from industry, energy and transport.

Airborne surveys of methane plumes spewing from landfills, power plants and oil fields in California have lead to palpable reductions in leaks of the potent greenhouse gas, the state’s air regulator and a non-profit group said on 8 June.

2. ‘Girls’ education is a climate solution’: Malala Yousafzai joins climate protest

The fight against climate change is also a fight for the right to education of girls, millions of whom lose access to schools due to climate-related events, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai told Reuters on 10 June.

Yousafzai was speaking outside the Swedish parliament where she joined environmental campaigners Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate at one of the Friday climate protests which have been held there every week since 2018 and sparked a global movement.

In 2012, the now 24-year-old survived being shot in the head by a Pakistani Taliban gunman after she was targeted for her campaign against the Taliban’s efforts to deny women education. She subsequently became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her education advocacy.

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum’s Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

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Due to climate-related events, millions of girls lose their access to schools. Events like droughts and floods impact schools directly, displacements are caused due to some of these events,” Yousafzai said in an interview.

“Because of that, girls are impacted the most: they are the first ones to drop out of schools and the last ones to return.”

During the demonstration, Yousafzai recounted a story of how her own education was interrupted by climate change as her school and many others in the locality were flooded.

Yousafzai, Nakate and Thunberg all stressed how women, especially those in developing countries, were disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and can be part of the solution if they are empowered by education.

3. New Zealand to price sheep and cow burps to cut greenhouse gases

New Zealand on 8 June released a draft plan to put a price on agricultural emissions in a bid to tackle one of the country’s biggest sources of greenhouse gases, belching sheep and cattle.

The proposal would make New Zealand, a large agricultural exporter, the first country to have farmers pay for emissions from livestock, the Ministry for Environment said.

New Zealand, home to 5 million people, has about 10 million cattle and 26 million sheep.

Nearly half its total greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, mainly methane, but agricultural emissions have previously been exempted from the country’s emissions trading scheme, drawing criticism of the government’s commitment to stop global warming.

Under the draft plan, put together by government and farm community representatives, farmers will have to pay for their gas emissions from 2025. Short-and long-lived farm gas will be priced separately, although a single measure to calculate their volume will be used.

“There is no question that we need to cut the amount of methane we are putting into the atmosphere, and an effective emissions pricing system for agriculture will play a key part in how we achieve that,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw said.

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