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State of the Planet: New York Approaches – New Cars Beat Targets – COP22 Mystery – Climate Stress Tests

The UN headquarters in New York. Photo: Drop of Light /
The UN headquarters in New York. Photo: Drop of Light /

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 15 April 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

We’ll file this one in the category: uh oh. NASA has detected a “very dramatic” change in Earth’s “wobble” as a result of climate change.

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory say melting ice is redistributing the planet’s weight. As result, the “wobble” that our planet makes as it rotates has shifted, Engadget reports. The researchers describe the change as “very dramatic,” but as far as they can determine “functionally harmless.” The data primarily serves to show the scale of human impact on the environment, Science.Mic reports.

New York: Will the Paris Agreement take effect next week? There’s an interactive map for that.

The World Resources Institute has published an interactive tool that shows what combination of at least 55 parties (that’s countries, and the EU) will result in at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gases. This will be the winning formula for next week’s official signing ceremony in New York on 22 April and a requirement for the Paris Agreement to take effect.

COP22, the Marrakesh climate summit in November, may be even more important than Paris.

As soon as the Paris Agreement is ratified the world can move on towards implementing it. And that’s what COP22 in Marrakesh will be all about, according to Andrea Karpati, head of policy at Climate-KIC. She makes her case in a viewpoint published by the Daily Planet.

A major COP22 social media mystery was solved this week.

Thanks to some ground-breaking investigative reporting by the Daily Planet, you can now have peace of mind and follow the official COP22 account on Twitter (for now).

Investors are aware of climate change risks, but are still slow to act.

Investors are still slow to act on climate change, even though they are “more aware of risks to their portfolios,” senior executives have told Reuters, which reports the executives tend to focus more on the short term and are unclear about the costs. Last year, a Climate-KIC study already revealed most European business leaders are aware of climate change and have prepared strategies to respond to to it, but with a lack of focus on innovation – making their strategies ineffective.

The European Union is considering stress tests for banks’ climate risk exposure.

Financial firms in the EU may have to undergo stress tests on their exposure to climate change risk, Reuters reports. Risks may include disasters such as floods, and exposure to energy intensive sectors. The move would aim to reduce long-term systemic risks linked to extreme weather and volatile energy prices.

Climate change could actually cut global financial assets by trillions.

Climate change could cut the value of the world’s financial assets by $2.5 trillion. “Our work suggests to long-term investors that we would be better off in a low-carbon world,” Prof Simon Dietz of the London School of Economics – the lead author of the study – told the Guardian.

Meanwhile, the hunt for the “Googles of clean-tech” is on.

Last year was the second year in a row that the booming renewables sector could count on more venture capital and private equity investment. “This is the beginning of decades of growth in clean-tech venture capital and private equity (…) We will see many global giants arise – the Googles of clean-tech,” Murray McCaig, managing partner at Toronto-based ArcTern Ventures – and 2015 Climate-KIC venture competition judge – told the Daily Planet.

Israel says its plans to cut CO2 emissions will provide an economic boost of $8 billion.

Israel has agreed on a plan for reducing greenhouse gases and increasing energy efficiency that benefits the country’s economy, Reuters reports. Government officials expect the benefit for Israel would be more than $8 billion. The country has committed to a reduction of 26 per cent over emissions in 2005.

Did you know the world is building a massive fusion reactor?

It’s happening in France, and it will try to emulate the way the sun produces heat in the largest experiment of its kind. Although the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project has dealt with some much publicised setbacks it is still going ahead, and it is slowly starting to take shape. This week, the first components (two gigantic water tanks) of the main fusion machine have been installed, the project’s website and a video on YouTube have the details.

Emissions by new cars sold in the EU are beating climate targets.

They fell 3 per cent last year and remained below Europe’s 2015 targets, Reuters reports. The European Environment Agency (EEA) data shows a steady decrease, mainly due to more energy efficient vehicles and increasing sales of electric and hybrid vehicles. Environmental lobby group Transport and Environment has come out to claim the new figures are “hot air” however. You can check out the EEA’s report and decide for yourself.

Last year’s climate summit in Paris had only half its expected carbon footprint.

The organisers of COP21 have announced that during the 13-day event less than half of the expected amount of carbon dioxide was emitted, Chinese news agency Xinhua reports.

Do you know any teenagers who take climate change photos?

Anyone aged 7 to 18 who can handle a camera(phone) has a shot at getting their work exhibited at the UN climate summit COP22 in Marrakesh, the Daily Planet reports.

Hug a Brit – and a tree – to keep UK in the EU, and help the environment in the process.

A “grassroots anti-Brexit campaign” is encouraging fellow-Europeans to hug their British friends and share pictures on social media with hashtag #hugabrit, Politico reports. Last week we already reported in the State of the Planet that the UK would miss out on substantial energy and climate change benefits if it were to leave the EU. Meanwhile, the UN is calling on people to hug a tree in honour of Earth Day on 22 April with the hashtag #Trees4Earth.

Looking for something to fix?

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

  • Heard about dead coral reefs? They could be an early warning of ‘dangerous’ climate change, reports the Washington Post.
  • Climate Change is hitting hard in Zambia. The country had so far been an African success story, the New York Times reports.
  • Greenland sees record-smashing early ice sheet melt. Scientists are ‘incredulous’ at abnormally high numbers for April, with melting across nearly 12 per cent of ice sheet, reports Climate Home
  • Cloud analysis also suggests global warming may be far worse than thought. Researchers find clouds contain more liquid – as opposed to ice – than was previously believed, threatening greater increase in temperatures, the Guardian reports.

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