News Press Review

State of the Planet: US, Canada Join Forces – 1M Renewables Jobs in Europe – Gender Equality – Electric Car Boom

Photo: CNN
Photo: CNN

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 11 March 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

In Europe, the renewable energy sector employed over one million people in 2015.

The European Commission’s energy department also reported a turnover of €143.6 billion for the sector.

Now that renewables can compete with fossil fuels “the pressure is on to support emerging technologies.”

So says Remi Charbillat, a director at France’s environment and energy agency. He said ocean energy or next generation biofuel are needed to help Europe get to 2030 and beyond,” the Daily Planet reports.

Last week’s publication of an EU Commission document has caused unrest in the climate change community.

The European Commission published its assessment of the Paris Agreement. “Is Brussels Killing The Paris Climate Dream?” is the rather dramatic headline by Climate Home that sums up the resulting mood in some quarters.

On Monday, the European Commission appeared to indicate the EU might still strengthen its 40 per cent carbon cut.

So reports the Guardian. Earlier, Greenpeace issued a press release claiming that some climate change ministers might also push for more ambitious targets.

But EurActiv reports EU leaders are not expected to discuss the issue at their summit in Brussels next week.

Max Gruenig of the Ecologic Institute tweeted the EU could now face “fierce competition” on climate change leadership from North America.

Climate change was very much on the agenda in North America this week.

Yesterday, the United States and Canada announced they will join forces on climate change. “Climate change is a big problem for everybody,” Obama confirmed. Together with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, he announced a new continental climate change approach. In anticipation of the announcement, Grist published a story saying the “frenemies on climate change” will now join forces – at last.

Reuters reports the two leaders have committed to cutting emissions of methane by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels, by 2025.

Obama and Trudeau also said they want to ratify the Paris Agreement as soon as possible. In the US, the installation of solar panels is set to more than double this year, Bloomberg reports.

Also in the US, a government agency has said it has developed the “holy grail” of battery storage – beating the likes of Elon Musk and Bill Gates.

The Guardian reports the agency is part of Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan to fund early stage research. The so-called “moonshot” projects are seen as too risky for regular investors, but if the discovery is as good as it sounds – details have yet to emerge – it could have been an agreeable investment.

On International Women’s Day, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres spoke out about gender equality.

The executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) outlined her three main concerns: 1) unequal salaries, 2) sexual abuse and 3) domestic violence.

Women – particularly in the developing world – often bear the brunt of climate change.

The “empowerment” of women is a critical ingredient in building disaster resilience, says a UN press release. Women are more likely to be affected if a hazard strikes, facing increased loss of livelihoods, gender-based violence, and even loss of life.

Many took to social media to discuss climate change and women.

The Daily Planet has published an overview, which includes a tweet by UNFCCC chief Christiana Figures praising climate justice advocate “Mama Mary” Robinson.

Sea-level rise is ‘too big to just pump it onto Antarctica’.

Climate-KIC partner the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) has investigated whether future sea-level rise could be solved through radical geo-engineering, that is: pumping water onto Antarctica. While the water would freeze to solid ice, the weight of it would speed up the ice-flow back into the ocean.

In a tragic twist, a nature photographer who shot iconic images of the threat of climate change in Alaska was found floating face down off the coast of Australia.

The Washington Post has the story and some of his photos.

JPMorgan Chase & Co just became the latest big bank to pull out from coal.

Bloomberg reports that the bank will no longer finance new coal mines and will end support for new coal-fired power plants being developed in rich countries.

National Geographic has published an infographic of “old-school” companies that are turning to renewables.

It includes a mix of old and new economy companies ranging from Ikea to Google.

And a GIF by Bloomberg shows how electric cars will cause “the next oil crisis.”

The graphic, plugged by Ontario climate change minister Glen Murray at an event in Toronto this week (the Daily Planet is everywhere!) shows how the 2020s will be the decade of mass adoption of the electric car. Murray also said it’s about time for a “revolution” to counter climate change, “with all due respect to Bernie Sanders,” he joked – a day before the Canadian prime minister’s visit to the White House.

In a piece for Time Magazine coinciding with the visit, Murray calls for a North American carbon market.

“The US could lose up to $100 billion of coastal property in the next 35 years because of sea level rise,” he warns. In December, Ontario was one of the regional governments to announce massive emissions reductions at the UN climate summit in Paris as part of a Climate-KIC supported initiative.

Bloomberg’s electric car animation:

Looking for something to fix?

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

  • Extreme rainfall related to climate change is already causing problems. From the UK to China, climate change is driving an increase in unusually large rainfall according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change.
  • The speed at which the climate is changing is threatening North America’s forests. Climate Change News report about new research focused on conditions hotter and less reliably rainy than those in which forests have evolved.
  • Half a million people could starve by 2050 because of the impact of climate change on the global diet. Fortune reports researchers from Oxford University have found that climate change could reduce food availability per-person by about 100 calories a day. Meanwhile, the BBC reports a climate deadline looms for African food crops.
  • The EU won’t meet its climate targets unless food-related emissions are reduced. But better technology could take agriculture halfway towards climate targets, says a new study by Chalmers University – a Sweden-based Climate-KIC partner.
  • “Brexit” could cause trouble in paradise. Caroline Spelman, a former UK Conservative secretary of state for environment, writes in Huffington Post how Britain’s “green and pleasant land is at stake” if her country were to leave the EU. “To really protect our glorious British countryside (…) we should stay in a reformed EU,” she says.

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