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State of the Planet: Renewables Employ 8.1M – Reefgate – Hungary Ratifies – A More Convenient Truth

A fish in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Joanne Weston / Shutterstock
A fish in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Joanne Weston / Shutterstock

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 27 May 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.

Surprise! Hungary has beaten the EU’s 27 other members to ratifying the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Hungary’s parliament voted unanimously to support the global climate deal, Climate Home reports. Budapest is also one of the few EU capitals to have ratified the 2013-2020 extension to the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only legally binding climate deal until the Paris Agreement takes effect according to Climate Home.

France is expected to be the second EU member state to ratify the treaty, with a vote scheduled for 8 June.

The global renewable energy workforce has grown to 8.1 million, the size of the population of Switzerland.

New data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that renewable energy jobs continue to rise even as employment in the broader energy sector falls, the Daily Planet reports. Or as the UNFCCC put it in a social media post: “Clean energy businesses are are hiring, whilst the fossil fuel sector is laying off employees.”

More than a third of the global renewable energy capacity additions in 2015, China led employment with 3.5 million jobs. Germany remains the highest renewables employer in the European Union – employing nearly as many as France, the United Kingdom, and Italy combined. But the report also highlights Denmark and the UK as global leaders in offshore wind employment.

Have you heard of “Reefgate” yet?

In a developing scandal that has already been dubbed Reefgate, the Australian government has confirmed it successfully pressured UNESCO to remove any mention of Australia in a report on climate change.

The internet noticed however, after the report’s chapter on the Great Barrier Reef went missing first before the entire UNESCO website was pulled down. The Australian government objected on the grounds it could impact on tourism, the Guardian reports.

Key takeaway from the Bonn climate change conference: “The honeymoon is over.”

The Bonn climate change conference that took place over the last two weeks has marked a return to technical work following the high level agreement in Paris according to Reuters, which reported that “the honeymoon is over.”

It may take up to two years for the world to draw up the rule book for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. “My bet is 2018, everything will be done (in) a maximum two years,” Laurence Tubiana, France’s climate ambassador, told Reuters.

If you follow a lot of climate change related accounts on Twitter, you may have noticed your timeline was filled at least three different hashtags: #SB44, #SBSTA44 and #APA1. The Daily Planet explained that the conference in Bonn actually combined three separate meetings.

Christiana Figueres said goodbye at the Bonn climate change conference.

“You were able to fully capture the winds of change and put the world on a clear course toward sustainable, environmentally sound social and economic growth,” she told delegates when discussing the Paris Agreement.

The UN’s popular climate chief will soon hand over to former Mexican foreign affairs minister Patricia Espinosa, the Daily Planet reported earlier.

Coming to planet Earth: The battle of the foreign affairs vs. the environment ministers.

The conference in Bonn demonstrated that diplomats are gradually crowding out environment experts in global efforts to tackle climate change, so reports Reuters. A shift signalling a higher profile for the issue and improved chances for more coordination to fight it, according to Reuters.

Some environment ministers feel displaced from their area of expertise by foreign ministers, Reuters knows. Some cope well with the new split but “in some countries it can create a lot of tensions.”

Schools in the US city of Portland are ditching textbooks that question climate change.

Schools in Portland, Oregon, have voted to abandon textbooks that express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities, the Guardian reports.

Big oil is not ready to really change, yet.

Shareholders at Exxon’s annual meeting rejected several resolutions backed by environmentalists that would have pushed the company to take a stronger stand in favour of steps to limit climate change, the Toronto Star reports.

The vote promoted some to wonder, including 350.org founder Bill McKibben, if this would be a good moment to divest from fossil fuel companies.

The chief executive of Chevron, meanwhile, questions shareholder proposals that want companies to explain the risk that climate change poses to business, the Wall Street Journal reports. He argues that the change might even be good for Chevron and spots a business opportunity for natural gas.

Food waste confirmed as contributor to climate change, and you can do something about it.

A team from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) – a Climate-KIC partner – has calculated the emissions from “food loss.” For the first time, they’ve created food waste projections for countries around the world.

The Daily Planet has nine tips to help you do your bit while you save money in the process.

Ten years later, Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ is becoming a lot more convenient.

This week, former US vice president Al Gore celebrated the tenth anniversary of the ground-breaking documentary that prompted millions to start asking questions about climate change. In stark contrast to the notoriously ‘doom and gloom’ tone of the marketing campaign around the 2006 film, Al Gore has recently said climate change is the “biggest new business opportunity in the history of the world.”

Ten years ago the Hollywood-style movie trailer warned: “Nothing is scarier than the truth,” followed by Gore saying “our ability to live is at stake.” The Daily Planet reports on what has changed, including the solar boom, electric cars that are going mainstream and the Paris Agreement.

Need some climate change inspiration? Why not watch a TED talk.

The Daily Planet brought you six TED talks with unique ideas on climate action this week.

Last night was a great night for EU climate action, with Europe’s climate innovators winning a Guardian award.

Climate-KIC has been awarded a Guardian Sustainable Business award for a global communications campaign around its successful 2015 climate change hackathon “Climathon.” Climate-KIC has an overview of the award ceremony on social media.

Looking for something to fix?

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

  • Climate change threatens existence of World Heritage icons (including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National park in Uganda, Italy’s “floating” city of Venice, and Yellowstone National Park in the United States are among the natural and manmade treasures at risk from climate change, Deutsche Welle reports.
  • Global warming will create hundreds of millions of climate change migrants by the end of the century if governments do not act. So says France’s environment minister Ségolène Royal, who told ministers from 170 countries at the UN environment assembly in Nairobi that climate change is linked to conflicts and migration, the Guardian reports.
  • Donald Trump says he would seek to renegotiate the Paris Agreement if elected US president. This would spell spelling potential doom for an agreement many view as a last chance to turn the tide on global warming, Reuters reports.

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