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Europe’s Autumn Surprise: The 16 Biggest Climate Stories This Week

Photo: Iakov Kalinin /
Photo: Iakov Kalinin /

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 4 October 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. It’s October! Make sure you don’t miss these spectacular new climate change documentaries.

Two brand new climate change documentaries are set to make their TV and online debuts on 30 and 31 October, the Daily Planet reports.

Just days ahead of the COP22 climate summit in Marrakesh – and the US presidential election – the star-studded documentaries featuring the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Arnold Schwarzenegger are set to premiere on television and a range of popular digital platforms.

2. Did Hurricane Matthew kill the peace deal in Colombia? The country’s coast was a bastion of yes-voters.

Author Justin Podur asked this question on Twitter, linking to an article in Columbia’s El Tiempo newspaper which lists it as one of five key reasons why the country narrowly rejected the peace deal.

The situation could be an example of how increased extreme weather can intensify conflict, environmentalist Naomi Klein pointed out in a Tweet.

In August, Time reported how climate change can worsen the impact of hurricanes. Hurricane Matthew, meanwhile, is still causing havoc in the region.

3. Surprise! Europe’s climate change ministers have agreed to bypass national procedures to speed up their ratification of the Paris Agreement.

The EU’s 28 climate ministers made history on Friday (30 September) by agreeing tor ratify the Paris climate accord and forwarding it to the European Parliament for a final vote, the Daily Planet reports.

By approving the ratification at an extraordinary meeting (30 September), ministers have proceeded to fast-track the legislative process and approve of the Paris Agreement at the European level before all member states have finalised their national procedures.

The Wall Street Journal reports how “the US push for an early entry into force created problems for the EU, which originally hadn’t planned to ratify the deal this year. Normally, the EU as a whole cannot ratify an international agreement such as the climate deal until national parliaments have had their say.”

The Paris Agreement has already cleared the European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday with 54 votes in favour and only 3 against, and is expected to be approved by the parliament as a whole today (4 October).

The three parliamentarians to vote against the climate accord are all French and members of the controversial Front National nationalist party.

4. The Paris Agreement could now come into force in November.

The Financial Times reports how the deal may already come into force on 7 November if the EU sticks to a 7 October deadline for handing it its paperwork at the UN. This means the accord could be activated even before the COP22 climate summit about the agreement’s implementation starts – a lot sooner than expected.

5. Which minister tweeted “Victory!” after the EU’s fast-track deal was struck?

Find out in the Daily Planet’s overview of how the deal unfolded on Twitter.

6. India, meanwhile, ratified the Paris Agreement on the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.

Prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted that Gandhi “inspires all of us. India will always work with the world to overcome climate change and create a green planet,” while quote-tweeting congratulations from François Hollande, the French president.

Although India is the fourth-largest emitter of global greenhouse gases – following the US, China and the EU – its ranking actually understates the significance of the country in terms of emissions, according to the Washington Post.

“Electricity demand is poised to skyrocket in coming decades as hundreds of millions receive access to electricity for the first time,” the Washington Post knows.

7. Cap and trade solutions are gaining global momentum ahead of the COP22 climate conference.

There’s a global momentum for carbon pricing according to the European Commission, CBC News reports, adding that the number of pricing initiatives has more than tripled since 2012. And in the upcoming months, China, Canada’s Ontario province and Mexico are also set to launch cap-and-trade systems, according to CBC. The EU is supporting the countries with its expertise and more than decade-long experience in carbon trading.

CBC quotes an Ontario government official as saying: “We learned from the EU and incorporated additional measures to address price volatility, including the establishment of a minimum price for allowances sold at auction and the establishment of an allowance reserve to provide additional allowances to capped emitters if needed during periods of high demand for allowances.”

8. Canada’s Justin Trudeau is introducing a minimum carbon price and a deadline for implementation across the country.

Prime minister Trudeau announced a minimum price of $10 a tonne yesterday (3 October). The minimum price will be implemented across Canada in 2018, rising to a minimum of $50 a tonne by 2022, the Toronto Star reports.

The requirement will be set by the federal government, but the country’s provinces will get to choose how to deliver it, either through carbon trading or a carbon tax – as long as it’s implemented by 2018.

Most Canadians are in favour carbon pricing, an opinion poll showed, but some took to Twitter to express their discontent – prompting minister McKenna to highlight one particularly unconstructive comment.

9. Royal Bank of Canada was one of many financial institutions urging for carbon pricing, predicting a rapidly growing global export market for clean technologies.

“Along with regulation and investment in green infrastructure and innovation, a key tool in the policy arsenal is an increasingly stringent and comprehensive carbon price,” Gerard Walsh, an RBC economist writes in an analysis for the multinational bank with 16 million clients and 78,000 employees worldwide.

“As carbon pricing gathers pace globally, the market for greenhouse-gas-reducing technologies is expected to grow rapidly creating export opportunities for firms which successfully develop and commercialise clean technologies,” he said.

10. Some say the ‘breakneck speed’ at which the Paris deal is being ratified is fueled by the ’16 straight months of record-breaking temperatures’.

The historic Paris climate change treaty is about to come into force amid alarm over ‘signals from the natural world‘ according to The Independent. Expert says the ‘breakneck speed’ at which the Paris Agreement is being ratified, and which saw the EU fast-track the accord and ignore national procedures, could be because of 16 months of record-breaking temperatures, The Independent reports.

11. US election: Scientists ring alarm bells as Trump vows to cancel Paris Agreement.

Seven climate scientists led by Robert Watson, a former chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said the chance of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above “has almost certainly already been missed,” according to the Washington Post, adding that we could very soon be on an irrevocable path to 2 degrees of warming.

Countries will need to dramatically up their pledges to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement on climate change according to the scientists, which Trump said he would “cancel,” the Washington Post adds.

12. Meanwhile, a Florida newspaper highlights a Dutch innovation as the “only way to save the East Coast from drowning,” but Miami “is already doomed.”

The Miami Herald reports how Europeans say it is key “for US politicians to stop debating the cause of sea level rise and start planning and funding the works that can stave it off.” The article highlights amphibious houses seen in a new district surrounded by water in the eastern part of Amsterdam as part of the solution.

Climate scientist Anders Levermann of Climate-KIC partner the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) is quoted as saying: “Miami? Miami is already doomed,” he says. The sea level expert pauses, then starts to correct himself. “That’s probably not fair,” he says. “Miami is, ah. . . . No, it’s just doomed.”

13. Leonardo DiCaprio hopes to influence the US election with his new climate change documentary and plans to tour with it in swing states.

The Guardian reports how last month, DiCaprio told the audience at the film’s world premiere at the Toronto international film festival: “We cannot afford, at this critical moment in time, to have leaders in office that do not believe in the modern science of climate change.”

DiCaprio screened his film – which features president Barack Obama – at the White House this weekend (2 October) and says he plans to show the film on college campuses and across swing states (which could go either Trump or Clinton), including Florida, according to the Guardian.

14. Global clean-tech race: The low-carbon economy needs active players, not observers, the EU’s energy transition chief has said.

Without this, Europe can’t compete in the global energy transition, EU energy chief Maros Šefčovič warned according to the Daily Planet. Addressing a wind energy audience in Hamburg, Šefčovič said their sector has a vital role to play by sharing knowledge and expertise, and joining the discussion about new policy proposals.

Europe’s ability to compete in the low-carbon economy is under pressure, with countries like China and the United States ramping up their efforts to counter climate change, and benefit from the opportunities for growth and jobs. US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says she want to make America the world’s clean energy superpower.

15. Can’t do without coffee? Here are some strong suggestions to help make your brew more sustainable.

It was International Coffee Day this weekend (1 October) and the Daily Planet was there to help you with some sustainable tips. Did you know climate change is set to have a big impact on the world’s coffee supplies? A new report has shown that climate change “will reduce the global area suitable for coffee by about 50 per cent across emission scenarios,” according to the New York Times.

16. How beauty and power can go hand in hand: Norway is making green energy look good.

The Guardian reported earlier last month how a small hydroelectric power station capable of supplying 1,600 homes with power in northern Norway is generating a buzz.

Looking for something to fix?

One of these stories may just inspire your next venture:

  • Grass food crops are facing climate change challenge. A study has highlighted the risk posed by global warming on the world’s ability to grow enough food, the BBC reports.
  • Climate change is fueling a food crisis in Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria. It is raising temperatures even as it disrupts the seasonal rains, National Geographic reports.

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