YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
By 2050, over 570 low-lying coastal cities will face projected sea level rises of at least half a meter, which could put over 800 million people at risk from storm surges and other impacts. In response, the mayors of coastal cities from Lisbon to New Orleans called this week for urgent global action to tackle climate change.
The C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen gathered leaders of 94 world cities that are home to more than 700 million people and represent one quarter of the global economy. Their meeting comes a month after a United Nations study delivered a stark warning to the world: slash emissions or watch cities vanish under rising seas, rivers run dry and marine life collapse.
“The Gulf of Mexico is now at our front door,” New Orleans mayor LaToya Contrell told a news conference. “While the sea level is rising, we’re also sinking, and we are losing a football field every 100 minutes.”
A mysterious oil spill that has polluted shores along a vast area of Brazil’s northeast may have resulted from unspecified criminal activity. An estimated 100 tons of crude has drifted toward land since early September, polluting some of the country’s most pristine beaches and forcing Brazilian officials to grapple with yet another environmental crisis. The government has already come under close scrutiny, and heavy criticism, after an unusually intense season of forest fires in the Amazon. Now, oil has been spotted on at least 132 beaches affecting 61 municipalities.
The bulk of industrial fishing in Madagascar’s waters takes place far from shore, conducted by foreign fishing vessels governed by international agreements that critics say lack transparency. With the vessels out of sight and the deals shrouded in secrecy, this form of fishing is nearly invisible to local eyes – yet conservationists argue that it is depleting the country’s fish stocks and marine ecosystems. Last year, a little-known private association in Madagascar agreed to a $2.7 billion deal, which could allow ~300 Chinese vessels to fish in Madagascar’s waters.
A new analysis has revealed the fossil fuel companies whose relentless exploitation of the world’s oil, gas and coal reserves can be directly linked to more than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era. The top 20 companies on the list have contributed to 35% of all energy-related emissions worldwide, totaling 480 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
A project to monitor every aspect of a fast-shrinking glacier could hold an answer to an urgent question: How fast will seas rise? Even after decades of study, researchers can't say how quickly the Greenland Ice Sheet will melt under the strain of human-driven global warming. Melt from Greenland already accounts for 25% of global sea level rise, and its share is growing.