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‘Ratify Paris Now’ Urges UN Chief And 17 Other Key Stories

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Photo: AP.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Photo: AP.

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 16 August 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 how to take part in Climate Action August!

NASA says 2016 is on track to be the hottest year ever, so how can you do your bit to fight climate change this summer? The Daily Planet has listed some ideas.

2. Speed up the ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges large nations.

He urged Argentina and other large nations to ratify the Paris climate accord at a Buenos Aires conference, Reuters reports. Argentina’s foreign minister said she hoped the country would do so by the end of the year.

As of now, only 22 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, according to Reuters, many of them small, vulnerable island nations that account for a negligible percentage of emissions.

Brazil, meanwhile, appears to be set to ratify in September.

3. The first American offshore wind turbines have been installed.

Already a common feature in Europe, American offshore wind power is now one step closer to becoming a reality, AWEA reports. The installation of the first turbines off the coast of Rhode Island has just been completed.

4. Hundreds have been evacuated from the path of a wildfire in southern France.

At least two wildfires had been burning towards Marseille, the Guardian reports. The city’s airport was forced to reroute incoming flights to make way for firefighting aircraft.

5. Obama declares emergency in Louisiana: More than 20,000 rescued from cars and homes.

President Obama has approved a request from the governor of Louisiana for federal emergency help, ABC News reports. The state is suffering from historic floods that have caused at least six deaths, stranded 20,000 and submerged thousands of homes and vehicles.

6. For the first time, privately-produced renewable energy resource data is available for download to all for free.

The data is part of the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Global Atlas for Renewable Energy, which gives developers, policy makers, and researchers access to globally consistent resource data that can be used in setting policy and performing initial project planning and prospecting.

Up to now, only data from selected publicly-funded sources was available. This has changed now that Finland’s Vaisala, a global environmental and industrial measurement company, has made its average annual data on solar irradiation and wind speeds available for download.

7. By 2085, rising temperatures will mean that just 33 cities can safely host the Olympic Summer Games.

In a commentary published last week in journal The Lancet, a team of public-health researchers warns that, if global temperatures continue to climb, only a handful of cities will be cool enough to host the summer Olympics by 2085, CityLab reports.

8. The emerging solar-power sector in Canada’s ‘oil province’ can’t keep up with demand for training courses.

The Edmonton Sun ran a story about, Brandon Sandmaier, who had a steady job with decent pay in Alberta’s oil industry. Now, in his late 20s, he’s a poster boy for the province’s shift toward alternative energy.

9. A volcano hid the acceleration of sea level rise over the last two decades.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 sent tens of millions of tons of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, Climate Central reports. By reflecting heat and cooling ocean temperatures, the eruption masked the worsening effects of industrial pollution on global sea levels during the two decades since, according to Climate Central.

10. Scientists predict that satellites will detect accelerating sea level rise within the next decade.

Three top climate scientists have made a very bold prediction regarding sea level rise. We should know in a few years if they are correct, the Guardian reports.

11. The Sun has published a map with an overview of the areas in Europe hardest hit by wildfires this summer.



12. The Atlantic ran a story about a former NASA employee who, fed up with her energy provider, had her electricity shut off – seven years ago.

Keya Chatterjee’s house in Washington D.C. is now powered by solar panels and… hot water bottles.

13. The US has announced a $30 million expansion of its clean energy partnership with India.

The US Energy Department and the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology intend to each commit $1.5 million per year for five years to expand an existing clean energy research effort. The private sector in the US and India will match the respective government commitments, which should result in a combined $30 million public-private research investment over the next five years.

“Smart grid and storage technology will transform how we produce and consume electricity, which has the potential to decrease carbon pollution by scaling up renewable energy deployment,” US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz commented in the press release.

14. International development banks say they are significantly increasing climate change investments.

In 2015, the world’s world’s six largest multilateral development banks mobilised a total of $81 billion, the Daily Planet reports. But the banks say they are now “significantly scaling up” their investments “across multiple sectors.”

UN environment chief Erik Solheim seems to agree, tweeting “[We] need more private sector investment to make it trillions!”

15. The UN’s has a new no-nonsense environment boss.

If his tweets are anything to go by, the UN’s new environment chief will not take no for an answer when it comes to climate action, the Daily Planet reports.

The former Norwegian environment minister officially took over as UN Environment Programme (UNEP) executive director last week. Solheim is an avid tweeter and his recent posts demonstrate the Scandinavian is not afraid to use direct language and share his opinions, praise, criticisms and calls to action with his almost 30.000 followers and counting.

16. German researchers: Mapping of bike-sharing data will change the way you see these cities.

Public bike-hire programs are generating a wealth of GPS tracking data that some city authorities have posted online, according to an article on the World Economic Forum webstite. Researchers in Germany have now found a clever use for some of this digital information.

17. There are 3 American cities that use 100% renewable energy — and 7 that plan to join them within 20 years.

US environmental group Sierra Club has compiled a list of some of the US cities that are on track to becoming 100 per cent powered by renewable energy in the next 20 years, Business Insider reports. The list also includes some that are already there.

18. Summer Read: Piecing together the Arctic’s sea ice history back to 1850.

Carbon Brief has published a guest article by Florence Fetterer, principal investigator at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in the US.

Sea ice cover in the Arctic has undergone a widely reported decline in recent decades, Fetterer reminds us, before providing an illustrated overview going back all the way to 1850.

Looking for something to fix?

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

  • Climate change pushes ski resorts to ‘weatherproof’. Resorts look to attract visitors with fun that doesn’t depend on snow, CBC News reports.
  • We’ve locked in more global warming than people realise. Today’s carbon pollution will have climate consequences for centuries to come, the Guardian reports.

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