News Press Review

China And Europe, The New Climate Leaders: This Week’s 13 Biggest Climate Stories

Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong meets with Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz during the two-day EU-China summit in Hamburg, Germany, last week. Photo: Xinhua/Shan Yuqi
Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong meets with Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz during the two-day EU-China summit in Hamburg, Germany, last week. Photo: Xinhua/Shan Yuqi

Things are moving quickly as our planet makes the transition to a new, clean economy. You want to stay in the loop – but you’re busy, that’s why we keep an eye on the headlines for you!

Welcome to the 29 November 2016 edition of the Daily Planet’s weekly State Of The Planet with some of the biggest stories about climate change this week. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @peter_koekoek or

1. These four mini-films by young documentary makers were among those declared winners at the Marrakesh climate summit.

Young US-based documentary makers have swept the short film category of the Connect4Climate competition with emotional mini-documentaries about climate change, the Daily Planet reports.

2. China emerges as global climate leader in wake of Trump’s triumph.

With the US president-elect threatening to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Beijing is to ready to lead world’s climate efforts, the Guardian reports. “China is poised to assume the role of steady, reliable climate ally, in sharp contrast to Trump’s US. Assuming leadership on climate has many attractions for China. As well as the economic opportunity, it is one of the few issues on which China could make a claim for the moral high ground,” the article explains.

During the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh, EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete tweeted a photo of his meeting with China’s climate minister. “Climate and clean energy leadership now more important than ever,” he tweeted, adding “We agreed to boost our cooperation, announcements soon.”

Last week, Chinese vice premier Liu Yandong and EU investment commissioner Jyrki Katainen met in Hamburg during an annual summit on EU-China economic relations. The topics on the summit’s agenda included the economic opportunities of the zero carbon economy as well as collaboration on innovation and R&D.

In his remarks at the summit, commissioner Katainen said: “Many years ago, China built a very famous wall – to keep out barbarians. But in the 21st century, China is building roads – land roads, sea roads and digital roads – connections that bring us together.” He also noted that “today, on the other side of the Atlantic, our American friends are celebrating ‘Thanksgiving’.”

3. ‘In Europe, even oil companies are preparing for climate change.’

So says a headline on Huffington Post’s US-edition, pointing out that “even conservative parties in Europe acknowledge the science behind the issue, while the Republican Party remains the sole major party in the developed world to deny the evidence. A new report by CDP shows how European oil and gas giants have invested more heavily in cleaner-burning natural gas and renewable energy sources, and have found ways to cut back on emissions that leak during the extraction process, according to the article.

4. ‘China, India, the European Union and Canada’s self-interest will sustain the fight against global warming, with or without America.’

The Economist has put climate change on the cover of its print edition. “China, India, the European Union, Canada and others have strong incentives to embrace cleaner technologies. If they work together they can make a difference – with or without the United States,” the Economist concludes in an article.

5. He may have an “open mind,” but the next US president knows absolutely nothing about climate change.

Trump’s lack of commitment to the cause of climate-science denial is rooted in a comprehensive failure to grasp the issue, according to an article in New York Magazine. The magazine dissects Trump’s recent interview with the New York Times in which he seemed to moderate his views on climate change somewhat, but “the portrait that comes out of the interview is one of almost complete ignorance,” the article states.

6. Meanwhile, the record-breaking Arctic ice melt could trigger uncontrollable climate change at global level.

Scientists warn increasingly rapid melting in the Arctic could trigger polar ‘tipping points’ with catastrophic consequences felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, the Guardian reports.

7. And Trump’s threat to NASA’s climate role could be a ‘disaster’ for global warming action.

A threat by Donald Trump to the climate research of US space agency NASA would be disastrous for global efforts to monitor and counter global warming, researchers say according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the Climate-KIC chair and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said ending NASA´s Earth observatory mission “would seriously impair our ability to see the big planetary picture.”

Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science said stripping NASA of its climate role “would be a shockingly stupid move,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

8. The polar vortex is shifting due to climate change, intensifying the winter in areas of Europe and North America.

A new study has found that, because of sea-ice loss in the Arctic, the notorious polar vortex is shifting and temperatures are turning colder during March, the Washington Post reports. The research, published in Nature, “shows a marked shift in the vortex from North America toward Europe and Asia,” according to the article.

9. But Germany and California have agreed to intensify their collaboration on climate change solutions.

Germany’s state secretary for the environment, Jochen Flasbarth, and his Californian colleague secretary Matthew Rodriquez met on the sidelines of the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh on 15 November, the Daily Planet reports.

At the meeting, which came just days after the US election, the pair discussed “how solutions to climate change, like investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate smart technology, will help grow our economies and create jobs,” according to a statement by California’s Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA).

10. An Alpine ski resort is building an indoor slope to adapt to climate change.

The French ski resort of Tignes has had plans approved to build a 400-metre indoor slope to respond to a decline in snow caused by climate change, according to the Telegraph.

The newspaper also points out that the Swiss federal environment office has predicted that all small and medium-sized glaciers in Europe will have melted entirely by 2050. A recent study also concluded that Swiss resorts have almost 40 fewer days of snow cover compared to the 1970s, according to the article.

11. Tesla just powered an entire island with solar to show off its energy innovations.

The US-based electric car and solar energy company has announced a major project, The Verge reports. Tesla is powering the entire island of Ta’u in American Samoa with solar energy. Thanks to its battery systems, the whole island can go three days without sun, and it only takes seven hours to recharge the system.

The island in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean used to run on diesel generators, but Tesla’s micro grid of solar energy panels and batteries will now supply nearly 100 percent of the power needs for the island’s 600 residents. The Verge points out the project seems intended to show off the benefits of the SolarCity acquisition. Ta’u’s microgrid includes 5,328 solar panels from SolarCity and Tesla, along with 60 Tesla Powerpacks batteries.

12. UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa has called on the best and brightest to step up and lead the zero carbon transformation.

With the Paris climate accord’s momentum now “unstoppable,” it is time for the best and brightest innovators to step up and lead the transformation, the UN’s climate chief has said according to the Daily Planet.

13. The US real estate industry is waking up to the risks of climate change.

The New York Times reports how America’s real estate industry is slowly awakening to the need to factor in the risks of catastrophic damage from climate change, especially in vulnerable coastal areas.

“Some analysts say the economic impact of a collapse in the waterfront property market could surpass that of the bursting dot-com and real estate bubbles of 2000 and 2008,” the article says.

Looking for something to fix?

One of these stories may just inspire your next project:

  • Climate changing ‘too fast’ for species. Many species will not be able to adapt fast enough to survive climate change the BBC reports.
  • Southern Africa cries for help. El Niño and climate change are savaging the maize harvest according to the Guardian.

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