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France Ratifies Paris Agreement And 11 Other Stories Everyone is Talking About

French environment minister Ségolène Royal at the ratification of the Paris Agreement this week. Photo: @RoyalSegolene / Twitter
French environment minister Ségolène Royal at the ratification of the Paris Agreement this week. Photo: @RoyalSegolene / Twitter

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 17 June 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 peter.koekoek@climate-kic.org.

1. It’s a bird… It’s a plane… No, it’s Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations!

The Daily Planet has unearthed a copy of a very special video message about climate change recorded by the UN’s chief executive for last year’s Comic Con convention in New York.

2. France became the first major country to formally ratify the Paris Agreement this week.

Au moment où le monde est en proie à une grande violence, à de terribles tensions, à la montée des fanatismes, le juste combat pour le climat apaise, réconcilie, construit l’avenir.

Ségolène Royal

Signing is good, ratifying is better,” French president François Hollande reportedly said.

While 177 parties have signed the deal at the U.N. headquarters in New York so far, only 17 have gone all the way by ratifying the text in their home countries, Grist reports. To kick the agreement into action, 55 parties accounting for at least 55 percent of global emissions will need to ratify it.

But Grist also reports there’s a catch with the French ratification: It won’t count for anything if the rest of Europe doesn’t do the same. The 28-member European Union negotiated and adopted the Paris Agreement as a bloc, and therefore must ratify it as such.

Positive, global collaboration on climate change with a focus on the future could become a catalyst for calming down tensions and a start of reconciliation in a world “plagued by violence” and the “rise of fanaticism” French environment minister Ségolène Royal said during the ratification ceremony in Paris.

3. ‘Brexit voters’ are almost twice as likely to not believe in climate change.

British people backing a leave vote in the EU referendum are almost twice as likely to believe that climate change does not have a human cause, the Guardian reports, and many prominent ‘leave’ campaigners are opposed to action on climate change.

But the ‘in’ and ‘out’ camp have now temporarily put their differences aside following the tragic murder yesterday of Jo Cox, a British member of parliament and former Oxfam aid worker who campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Union.

EU Commission vice president Maroš Šefčovič – responsible for Europe’s Energy Union project – was one of many politicians from around the world with climate change in their remit to respond on Twitter, saying “Let her legacy carry on.”

“So sad and so senseless,” said Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna after saying Jo Cox “believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life.”

British environment minster Amber Rudd said: “Seeing her across the floor of the House, her fearless certainty always drew attention and admiration. An exceptional MP. A huge loss.”

“Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion – it is poisonous,” Malta’s environment minister quoted Jo Cox’s husband.

In Canada, a minute of silence was observed in the House of Commons following a tearful tribute by one of the opposition parties’ climate change experts Nathan Cullen MP, who knew Cox personally.

“Absolutely horrible news about Jo Cox MP. So Said,” tweeted Irish member of the European Parliament Sean Kelly. Kelly played a key role in the European Parliament’s preparation for the UN climate summit in Paris last year.

Françoise Grossetête, a French member of the European Parliament’s environment committee, said she was “appalled” to learn about Jo Cox’ “savage murder while defending her ideals.”

“Unbelievable that division in politics might have led to [Jo Cox] losing her life in such a tragic way,” tweeted Maltese member of the European Parliament’s environment committee Miriam Dalli.

4. Tesla now produces 2000 cars a week, which means it is on course to meet its goals.

With 373,000 reservations under the belt for its new mass market electric car – and more than one year to go until production starts – Tesla has to ramp up its production, and AutoEvolution reports it is on track to produce 500,000 cars a year by 2017.

Germany’s Daimler, meanwhile, already seems to be behind the curve saying it expects to only sell 100,000 electric cars by 2020.

Another US based electric vehicle start-up focused on transport, Nikola Motor, says it has received 7000 reservations for its electric truck, Transport Topics reports.

5. Renewables will power most of Europe’s energy by 2040.

Wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy plants will generate the vast majority of Europe’s power by 2040 according to a new analysis by Bloomberg the Daily Planet reports.

Solar and wind technology are expected to be the cheapest ways to produce electricity in many countries during the 2020s, and in most of the world by the 2030s, the Daily Planet reports.

EU climate commissioner Cañete was on the ball, and tweeted “Let’s get the ball rolling” in a reference to the 1.5 degree target and the European football tournament that is currently taking place in France.

6. Confirmed: The era of ever-expanding demand for fossil fuels will end in less than a decade.

The way we get electricity is about to change dramatically, according to Bloomberg. It’s called “peak fossil fuels” – a turnabout that’s happening not because we’re running out of coal and gas, but because we’re finding cheaper alternatives, the Bloomberg analysis also shows.

Demand is peaking ahead of schedule because electric cars and affordable battery storage for renewable power are arriving faster than expected, as are changes in China’s energy mix.

7. Scientists warn that the global warming target will be overshot within two decades.

Unless further drastic measure are taken, annual concentrations of CO2 are set to pass 400 parts per million in 2016 and will not fall below it our in our lifetimes according to a new UK Met Office study reports the Guardian.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that CO2 concentrations must be stabilised at 450ppm to have a fair chance of avoiding global warming above 2 degrees Celsius, which could carry catastrophic consequences.

8. Good news from Scotland: It exceeded its 2020 emissions target…. in 2014.

The Scottish government announced this week that it has reduced its emissions by 46 per cent compared to 1990 levels, Business Green reports. The Scottish Government argues that the new figures show that Scotland is outperforming the UK as a whole, with a 39.5 per cent drop in so-called source emissions – which include international aviation and shipping – between 1990 and 2014 compared to the UK’s 33 per cent reduction over the same period.

9. Can you name seven a-list celebrities who support climate action?

The Daily Planet can, and we’ve listed them for you. Taking action on climate change has been getting a wave of new celebrity endorsements lately, and it’s helping to capture people’s attention in new ways – supporting new policies and increasing market demand.

10. Erasmus for Entrepreneurs? Yep, you can take your clean-tech start-up abroad!

You may have heard about the millions of European students studying abroad as part of the EU’s Erasmus programme. But did you know there is also an Erasmus for entrepreneurs? The Daily Planet has the details.

11. Antarctic carbon levels have reached the 400 PPM mark for the first time in 4 million years.

Carbon dioxide has been steadily rising since the start of the Industrial Revolution, setting a new high year after year. There’s a notable new entry to the record books, Climate Central reports.

The last station on Earth without a 400 parts per million (ppm) reading has reached it.

12. May marked one more record hot month for the world.

The streak continues: May was record warm for the globe, according to NASA data released this week. It’s now even more likely that 2016 will be the hottest year ever recorded, the Guardian reports.

So far this year every month has been record warm. February and March actually set consecutive records for the most anomalously warm month, according to data from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Looking for something to fix?

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

  • Poor air quality and climate change are the two greatest threats to human health in Europe. So says the latest Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) assessment for the pan-European region, prepared by UNEP and UNECE with support from the European Environment Agency (EEA).
  • Paris floods made almost twice as likely by climate change. So says a preliminary analysis by a group of scientists, including the Dutch weather agency and the University of Oxford, the Guardian reports.
  • The first mammal has been declared extinct due to climate change. A small rodent in Australia is the world’s first mammal to go extinct due to man-made climate change, USA Today reports.

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