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EU to Fast-Track Paris Agreement And 12 Other Major Stories

EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker arrives at the Bratislava summit. Photo: European Commission
EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker arrives at the Bratislava summit. Photo: European Commission

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 20 September 2016 edition of the Daily Planet’s weekly State Of The Planet. Don’t hesitate to send your tips and comments to @peter_koekoek or

1. Here’s what Climate Diplomacy Week 2016 actually looked like around the world.

Last week (12 – 18 September), European embassies celebrated Climate Diplomacy Week 2016, demonstrating the EU is as committed to climate action as ever. You may have come across the glitz and glamour of the online information campaign, but what was it like on the ground? The Daily Planet has selected a few tweets!

2. The EU could “fast-track” the Paris Agreement and ratify as early as 7 October.

Unlike the US and China, the European Union has to deal with 28 national bureaucracies to be able to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change – something that inevitably slows down the process.

But now EU leaders say they are ready to “fast-track” the ratification procedure, Business Green reports. Europe’s prime ministers and presidents are proposing to ratify the agreement at EU level during a summit on 30 September, instead of waiting for all national procedures to take their course. The European Parliament’s sign-off on the historic accord could then follow a week later on 7 October.

Scientific American quotes French climate ambassador Laurence Tubiana in a ClimateWire piece on the topic. Tubiana said there is a precedent for this – the bypassing of national procedures – but only on much more limited international agreements, according to Scientific American.

European Union leaders discussed the option during a summit in Bratislava – which did not include the UK, which says it wants to leave the EU – just days after European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker called for the process to be sped up: “We make ourselves ridiculous and lose credibility if we do not soon ratify the Paris Agreement,” he said during his annual State of the EU speech in the European Parliament.

But the fact that people had been referring to the current ratification process in Europe as “slow” in the first place, is noteworthy. Business Green editor James Murray highlighted this in a tweet: “Who would have thought a year ago we’d be running stories like this?” Originally, the Paris Agreement was expected to be ratified much later, also by the US and China. Murray calls the overall speed “astounding.”

3. The European Parliament’s environment committee has already said MEPs should pass the agreement.

The EU parliament should give its consent to the ratification of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, Environment Committee MEPs have recommended. They joined the European Commission in urging all EU member states to conclude the ratification process, according to a news release on the EU parliament’s website.

4. Swift ratification by the EU could mean the Paris Agreement would enter into force during the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh.

Bloomberg reports that if the EU manages to usher through the ratification of the agreement in the next three weeks, it would probably trigger the entry into force of the accord, which requires 55 per cent of the world’s emitters to ratify.

China and the US alone account for 38 per cent of emissions, and the EU would add 12 per cent. That, along with other countries that have recently ratified – like Brazil – could mean the agreement would enter into force one month following the EU’s possible ratification on 7 October, according to the rules of the accord. The COP22 summit runs from 7 until 18 November.

Following the news, former Australian green party leader Christine Milne took to Twitter to call on her prime minister to follow suit.

5. The world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm has been launched in Scotland.

The project will lead the way in tackling climate change and providing jobs, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said according to the Guardian. A turbine for the tidal stream project was unveiled last week, and will now begin its journey to the project’s site in the waters off the north coast of Scotland, the Guardian reports.

The turbine will be the first of four to be installed underwater – each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts (MW) – in the initial phase of the project. The project could eventually have as many as 269 turbines, bringing its capacity to 398MW – enough electricity to power 175,000 homes, the Guardian reports.

6. Travel Tip: East Germany’s old coal mines have been transformed into a new lake district.

With the help of a €2.2 billion regeneration programme, one of the dirtiest areas of Germany has been turned into the Lusatian Lake District project. The Guardian sent a someone to check it out, reporting that the project carries “huge symbolic value in terms of the country’s Energiewende, part of Angela Merkel’s renewable energy act.”

7. You might be eligible for the EU’s €100K prize for women innovators – here’s how.

If you’ve founded a company with a turnover of at least €100.000, you may just win one of four EU awards for women innovators. The 2017 edition of the Women Innovators contest features prizes ranging from €20.000 to €100.000 and the Daily Planet has the details.

8. General Motors (GM) is the latest “treehugger” to commit to 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2050.

General Motors, one of the largest car manufacturers in the world, is committing to only using renewable electricity by 2050 according to the Climate Group. On Twitter, UNFCCC deputy newsroom editor John Hay joked how the American corporation is the latest in a group of “left-wing tree huggers” to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy.

GM will be joining RE100, an initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. The initiative brings together “the world’s most influential companies making the highest level commitments on renewable power.”

9. Wired Magazine, meanwhile, took GM’s new, affordable electric car for a test drive.

The Chevrolet Bolt is GM’s new affordable, long-range electric car, and is supposed to help GM compete with Tesla. The car delivers well over 200 miles on a charge and costs no more than $30,000 after US tax credits, Wired reports.

10. The death of ‘he said, she said’ journalism has a lot in common with reporting on climate change.

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen explains the ‘he said, she said’ formula: “There’s a public dispute. The dispute makes news. No real attempt is made to assess clashing truth claims in the story … The symmetry of two sides making opposite claims puts the reporter in the middle between polarized extremes,” the Atlantic reports.

This type of reporting is increasingly unsuitable for the 2016 US presidential campaign, according to the Atlantic article, which points out that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, “has so brazenly lied, so nakedly appealed to bigotry, and so frontally challenged the rule of law that he has made the elite media’s decorum absurd. He’s turned highbrow journalists into referees in a World Wrestling Entertainment match.”

‘He said, she said’ reporting also used to be applied to climate change, elevating fringe science deniers to the same level as legitimate specialists. But over the years, most editors and journalists have become more educated on the topic – changing the way news organisations report on the subject.

11. Canada could become the latest country to introduce carbon pricing.

Canada’s federal government has asked the country’s provinces to introduce measures to regulate greenhouse gas emissions in their territories, and will move to introduce a national carbon price if the provinces fail to take adequate steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, Business Green reports.

Catherine McKenna, Canada’s climate change minister, said “It’s mandatory that everyone will have to have a price on carbon,” she said. “If provinces don’t do that, the federal government will provide a backstop,” according to Business Green.

12. You can watch a nine-year-old tell his mum she’s “misinformed” about climate change.

While the world is still figuring out how to implement the Paris Agreement, kids are becoming increasingly well informed about climate change – and are demanding action. Kai took on his mum Jasmine during an interview. “It’s not that I don’t care,” his mother Jasmine said, “I don’t know where to start.” Kai simply replies: “You’re misinformed.”

13. The world celebrated Ozone Day last week, and this catchy song explains why ‘phytoplankton’ rejoiced.

An animation shows phytoplankton celebrating the ozone layer’s healing. The song, commissioned by the UN’s environment programme (UNEP) in 2015, explains that harmful solar rays don’t just affect humans, but also the microalgae in our oceans, the Daily Planet reports.

In a video recorded for this year’s Ozone Day, UN environment boss Erik Solheim points to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the Daily Planet reports, urging for it to be approached just like the Montreal Protocol that saved the ozone layer. “We need to implement it, we need to walk the talk,” he said.

Looking for something to fix?

One of these stories may just inspire your next business venture:

  • A town with 4000 inhabitants in Alaska is on the verge of disappearing. Warming air, melting permafrost and rising sea levels are threatening its coastline, the Toronto Star reports.
  • Polar bears are losing weight as Arctic sea ice melts. Between 1984 and 2009 the weight of female bears in the Canadian province of Ontario fell by over 10 per cent, the Guardian reports.

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