Headlines UK UK

Climate change: Welsh green energy hindered by ‘strained’ grid capacity

Developers of green energy schemes in Wales face “significant challenges” in linking up to electricity power lines, the industry association has said.

Lower emissions targets could be missed as a result, Renewable UK Cymru said.

It also said new zones allocated by ministers for onshore wind farms provided “virtually no opportunity whatsoever” for development.

The Welsh Government said it was working with partners to design the energy networks needed.

It is currently hosting a Wales Climate Week to debate ways of tackling global warming, during the period when a major UN conference – COP 21 – had been scheduled to take place.

Rhys Wyn Jones, director of Renewable UK Cymru, said the Welsh Government needed to go “beyond simply co-ordinating activity” between different stakeholders to solve issues with grid capacity.

He said: “The Welsh Government wants to heat and power all new homes from clean energy sources by 2025. It also says in its transport strategy that large uptake of electric vehicles will place pressure on the grid – so it’s not that we don’t know these challenges are coming.”

Housing minister Julie James recently acknowledged grid capacity problems, telling a Senedd committee: “You’ll know how bad the grid is in mid Wales. It isn’t great north and south either.”

Gareth Cemlyn Jones
Gareth Cemlyn Jones of Ynni Ogwen said the grid was “under strain”

It is understood there are parts of the country – including mid Wales in particular – where power lines are close to full capacity, leaving developers of potential energy schemes facing prohibitive upfront costs to upgrade the local networks before they can start generating.

Ynni Ogwen, a community energy company based in Bethesda, Gwynedd, said the grid locally was “under a lot of strain”.

Chairman Gareth Cemlyn Jones said: “It can result in either projects not taking off or possibly being downgraded so they’re not generating to their full potential.”

The issue is complicated by the fact that powers over grid infrastructure are shared between governments in Cardiff Bay and Westminster, while energy regulator Ofgem sets the amount firms can invest in upgrading their networks each year.

Western Power Distribution, which supplies south Wales as well as south-west England and the Midlands, told BBC Wales it had re-engineered its network over the last decade to allow a greater integration of renewables, but recognised “further investment” was needed.

Rhys Wyn Jones
Rhys Wyn Jones has concerns about land earmarked for wind energy

Renewable UK Cymru said the Welsh Government needed to set out a plan to deal with the issue.

The Welsh Conservatives’ spokeswoman on climate change, Janet Finch-Saunders, wants targets for increasing grid capacity.

“I think the Welsh Government should have been more proactive in sorting out the grid capacity issues because why should we be starved of using the relevant renewable technologies because of this? It’s not good enough,” she said.

A map of Wales showing 10 favoured areas for wind energy development around Wales
Renewable UK Cymru said only around 5% of the land identified by Welsh Government would be “theoretically developable”

Meanwhile, concerns have also been raised about the Welsh Government’s recently published national development framework for the next 20 years – known as Future Wales.

It sets out a series of zones where ministers would like to see onshore wind farms to help meet climate change goals.

But Renewable UK Cymru said only around 5% of the land identified would be “theoretically developable” and even this figure was optimistic as it included areas that would not be large enough to support developments of national significance.

The Senedd’s climate change committee is discussing the issue later this week.

A windfarm in a rural landscape
The Welsh Government is “broadly supportive” of onshore wind energy – but not in national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty

The Welsh Government’s energy generation 2019 report said 51% of Wales’ energy needs were met from renewables. Two-thirds of renewable electricity generated in Wales comes from wind.

A spokesman said the national development framework was put together with the aim of fostering a “coherent approach” to development and it was “broadly supportive” of onshore wind energy developments throughout Wales, except in national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

He added it was working with councils, National Grid and district network operators “to design the energy networks needed for the long term”.

Big Story Delhi

Farm fire share in Delhi’s pollution but opposition parties are in denial: Gopal Rai

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday targeted the BJP and the Congress on the issue of stubble burning, saying the share of farm fires in Delhi’s pollution has soared to 40 per cent but the opposition parties are in denial.

According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution rose to 40 per cent on Sunday, the maximum so far this season.

It was 32 per cent on Saturday, 19 per cent on Friday and 36 per cent on Thursday, the second highest this season so far.

“We have been saying it again and again that stubble burning is a major reason behind severe levels of pollution in Delhi around Diwali, but the BJP and the Congress say the share of farm fires in Delhi’s pollution was just 4 to 6 per cent, whereas statistics show it has increased to 40 per cent,” Rai told reporters during the launch of “Red Light On, Gaadi Off” campaign in all 272 wards of Delhi to curb vehicular pollution.

He said the Delhi government has been doing everything possible to curb biomass burning, and vehicular and dust pollution, “but what should we do about stubble burning?” Last year, the stubble contribution to Delhi’s pollution had peaked to 44 per cent on November 1, according to SAFAR data.

NASA’s satellite imagery showed a large, dense cluster of fire dots covering Punjab and parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Rai said air pollution combined with the Covid-19 pandemic can be “catastrophic” and strict action on the ground was more important than creating new commissions The Centre introduced a new law recently through an ordinance that put in place a powerful Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas to curb air pollution.

On the Rajasthan government banning bursting of firecrackers, the minister said, “Pollution is defined by the air shed. There is a need for collective action. In Delhi, it was repeatedly being said that the rising pollution level is due to stubble burning in neighbouring states, and the response we received from the central government and states was that there is no alternative to stubble burning.” In Delhi, the administration sprayed the bio decomposer developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, in non-Basmati rice fields to prevent stubble burning.

“The preliminary reports have been extremely positive. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will ascertain the ground reality at Hiranki village on November 4,” he said.

“We want to tell the states and the central government that there is no cheaper alternative than this (bio decomposer). We request them to physically witness the bio decomposer at work,” he added.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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Technology US

Apple should switch the iPhone to USB-C if it really wants to help the environment

If you buy an iPhone in the future, you’re not getting an included charging brick or earbuds. Apple says the reasons are environmental. Giving out fewer “free” accessories with every phone means using less materials, the company claims, and also makes for smaller boxes that can be shipped more efficiently. So going forward, those boxes will just come with a phone and a Lightning to USB-C cable.

I think Apple’s approach is generally a good thing, but it should have gone further by switching away from its proprietary Lightning port entirely and fully embracing USB-C. Right away, that Lightning to USB-C cable would turn into a much more useful USB-C to USB-C cable that could charge basically all of your electronics. Or better still, Apple could remove the cable entirely and just ship the phone by itself, eliminating even more duplicitous waste.

It’s a relatively small change for each person buying an iPhone, but it’s massive when you consider the fact that Apple shipped almost 200 million iPhones over the past year, according to IDC. Chargers might make up a relatively small proportion of total e-waste, as Wired notes, but on a global basis, that’s still tens of thousands of metric tons annually. And as the lack of headphone jacks on 2020’s flagship smartphones shows, Apple’s decisions also have a huge influence on the rest of the industry.

Apple argues no charging brick makes for smaller, more efficient, packaging.
Image: Apple

USB-C is already becoming the standard

I’ll be the first to admit that USB-C isn’t a perfect standard. Its naming scheme has been a mess (the current USB standard is called USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 for chrissake), and there are so many bad USB-C cables in the wild that some people have made it their mission to root out the worst of them. To borrow a famous turn of phrase, USB-C is the worst connection standard… except for all the others. But it’s also the best one yet created.

In 2020, USB-C is about as universal as wired connection standards come. It’s used by over-ear headphones, true wireless earbuds, VR headsets, tablets (including some of Apple’s), laptops (including all of Apple’s) and laptop accessories. It’s used by game consoles like the Nintendo Switch, and it’ll be used with both the PS5 and the Xbox Series X’s controllers when those consoles ship next month. USB-C batteries are becoming commonplace and chargers are getting tiny and extremely capable — with up to 100 watts, a powerful battery or a charger the size of a deck of playing cards can sometimes power a laptop, tablet, and phone all at once.

Not only is USB-C used almost everywhere, it’s also hard to name something that Lightning actually does better. Longtime Apple blogger John Gruber has argued in the past that it’s a more elegant and slightly thinner port which… sure, maybe? But is that enough reason to maintain the status quo if Apple cares as much about the environment as it claims?

You probably already have a USB-C charger

Apple’s core argument for taking the charger out of the box is that it avoids piling on accessories that a lot of people already own. During its presentation, Apple estimated that there are 2 billion of its power adapters out in the world, and “billions” of third-party chargers.

But let’s put that into perspective. According to IDC, Apple commanded just 13.9 percent of the global smartphone market in 2019, shipping close to 200 million phones last year. Meanwhile, the rest of the industry combined shipped over a billion phones over the course of just a single year, and most of those devices used USB-C. That’s a lot of people who already have everything they need to charge a hypothetical USB-C iPhone, including both charging bricks and USB-C cables. And it doesn’t include all the people who bought other USB-C devices like headphones, laptops, and tablets, including recent MacBook and iPad Pro devices.

All of that means that if you really want to, you can absolutely sell a USB-C smartphone without any charging accessories at all. That’s what ethical smartphone manufacturer Fairphone does. Inside the box for its most recent phone, the Fairphone 3 Plus, you’ll find no headphones, no USB-C charging cable, and no USB-C charging brick. Instead there’s a small screwdriver, so that when the time comes, you’ll be theoretically able to repair the phone for yourself rather than having to throw it out.

A slightly weird halfway house

There are serious questions to be asked about how positive an environmental impact Apple’s existing plan is actually going to have. A big part of Apple’s pitch is that there are already billions of power adapters out there, but it’s likely that a significant portion of them use the USB-A standard, which is incompatible with the Lightning to USB-C cable Apple now packs into the box for faster charging speeds. Apple only started putting USB-C power adapters in the box last year, and even then it was limited to the Pro models, meaning the vast majority of iPhones sold came with a USB-A brick bundled in.

USB-C charging bricks only started getting bundled with last year’s iPhone 11 Pro.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

I’m not saying there’ll be no environmental impact. With the iPhone 12, a lot of people will still be able to reuse their existing USB-A to Lightning charging cables and USB-A power bricks, regardless of the new cable they get in the box. But then what’s the point of that Lightning to USB-C cable, particularly if you wind up switching to Apple’s MagSafe wireless chargers instead? If it were a USB-C to USB-C cable, at least you could use it with other gadgets. Apple could have a much bigger environmental impact in the long run by eliminating its proprietary Lightning port entirely.

Apple’s argument

We already know what Apple thinks about potentially switching to USB-C connectors, because it put out a statement on this very topic earlier this year. The statement came in response to EU efforts to mandate a common charger for all smartphones, and Apple argued that a switch to USB-C would actually be worse for the environment overall, by rendering hundreds of millions of Lightning accessories obsolete. Here’s the relevant part of the statement it issued in January (emphasis added):

“More than 1 billion Apple devices have shipped using a Lightning connector in addition to an entire ecosystem of accessory and device manufacturers who use Lightning to serve our collective customers. Legislation would have a direct negative impact by disrupting the hundreds of millions of active devices and accessories used by our European customers and even more Apple customers worldwide, creating an unprecedented volume of electronic waste and greatly inconveniencing users.”

There absolutely are a lot of Lightning accessories out there. But the argument rings hollow given Apple’s own history of obviating all those 30-pin iPod docks and early iPhone peripherals when it switched to Lightning in 2012. Instead of sending them straight to the dump, Apple and others sold 30-pin to Lightning adapters to extend the usefulness of those legacy accessories for years. Apple and its partners can surely now do the same in order to preserve all those Lightning devices. Yes, it would create a one-time glut of adapters that would eventually end up in landfills, but it’s the short-term price to pay for the long-term benefits of convergence.

Same pain, more gain

As someone who has a whole drawer filled with spare power adapters I never use, I’m sympathetic to what Apple is trying to achieve with the iPhone 12. Giving out duplicate accessories with every new phone really isn’t sustainable if we want to try and cut down on the estimated 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste we threw out last year.

But I also have some sympathy for those who say Apple is nickel-and-diming its customers with the move. When a phone costs hundreds of dollars, it’s hard not to feel a little cheated by a smaller box with fewer accessories, particularly if the remaining ones are still half-proprietary.

By using the environment to justify the removal of wasteful iPhone charging accessories, Apple has now argued itself into a corner. If its environmental concerns are important enough to influence what gets included with a new phone, then they should also be important enough to influence its design directly.

Last year my colleague Dieter argued that the iPhone 11 should have been the last with Lightning. He’s still right.

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Headline USA

Famous mothers promise their children to vote for the environment | The NY Journal

The #VoteLikeAMadre campaign is launched with the support of Jennifer López, Eva Longoria Bastón, Salma Hayek, Roselyn Sánchez, among other celebrities, in support of initiatives against climate change

The #VoteLikeAMadre campaign seeks to boost the power of Latina mothers to encourage their community to vote, prioritizing leaders who care about the new generations and are committed to fighting climate change.

Led by the Latino Victory Project (non-partisan organization), #VoteLikeAMadre has the support of great Latin celebrities such as Jennifer López, Eva Longoria Bastón, Salma Hayek, Roselyn Sánchez among others; and recognized influencers like Marinés Duarte, Mónica Fonseca and Ana Flores.

“Max and Emma are my world. When I think about what their lives will become if we ignore the impact our planet is having with climate change, it breaks my heart. We need to do something and take action NOW. That is why I make my promise to #VoteLikeAMadre for leaders who believe in science and will work to protect the environment, ”stated Jennifer Lopez.

He Pinky promise features photos and videos of moms with their children and women in general, pledging to fight climate change and challenging friends to do the same

“There is nothing more important for a mother than to ensure the well-being, health and future of our children. The good news is that we can make a big difference with one very simple action: VOTE! ”, Said Marinés Duarte.

All mothers can participate in the initiative, as follows.

  • Take a picture taking your Pinky Promise (promise) that you will watch over to protect the future of your children and fight against climate change.
  • Post the photo or video of your pledge with #VoteLikeAMadre on social media and invite your friends to join using #VoteLikeAMadrechallenge.
  • Make a plan to vote on November 3 (or earlier, depending on the dates in your area).

Find out why JLo promised her children to #VoteLikeAMadre:

For more information and join #VoteLikeAMadre and make a Pinky promise visit


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Delhi The Buzz

95% of pollution in Delhi-NCR due to local factors: Environment Minister

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 15

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday said around 95 per cent of air pollution in Delhi-NCR was due to local factors like dust, construction and biomass burning and the share of stubble burning was only around 4 per cent as on date.

He also urged the Punjab Government to curb stubble burning, flagging off 50 Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) inspection teams for field visits in Delhi-NCR to keep a watch on pollution hot spots during the winter season.

Read also: Data on Delhi-NCR pollution vindicates Punjab govt’s stance: Amarinder

Javadekar said only about 4 per cent air pollution was due to stubble burning while around 95 per cent of it was due to local factors like biomass burning, garbage dumping, unpaved roads, dust, construction and demolition activities, etc.

Urging Punjab Government to control stubble burning Javadekar also recalled how his throat choked with the smoke from burning of crop residue during a recent visit to Ludhiana.

“It is also about health of the people in the state. The Punjab Government should ensure there is not much stubble burning this time,” said the Minister.

Punjab and Haryana account for sizable stubble burning incidents.

Addressing nodal officials of the CPCB teams, he said, “You will work for next two months and take note of all activities and complaints. You will inspect all factors. You have the right to file a report on your observations and strict action will be taken.”

The 50 CPCB teams will make extensive field visits from October 15 to February 28 next year and focus on hotspot areas. They will visit Delhi and NCR towns – Noida, Ghaziabad and Meerut in Uttar Pradesh; Gurugram, Faridabad, Ballabgarh, Jhajjar, Panipat and Sonepat in Haryana; and Bhiwadi, Alwar and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

Javadekar said that during the current times of COVID, members of the CPCB teams were no less than corona warriors as they would be visiting and giving feedback from the ground which would help in mitigating air pollution.


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Big Story Delhi

“Only 4% Pollution In Delhi Due To Stubble Burning”: Environment Minister

Prakash Javadekar claimed that stubble burning is not a major factor for air pollution in Delhi

New Delhi:

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar today flagged off 50 inspection teams of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for field visits in Delhi-NCR to keep a watch on pollution hot spots during the winter season and urged the Punjab government to curb stubble burning.

He said stubble burning, however, is not a major factor for air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

“Only 4 per cent pollution is due to stubble burning. Ninety-six per cent of it is due to local factors like biomass burning, garbage dumping, unpaved roads, dust, construction and demolition activities, etc.,” he told reporters at his residence in Delhi.

Mr Javadekar said his throat choked with the smoke from burning of crop residue during a recent visit to Ludhiana.

“I appeal to the Punjab government to swing into action and curb stubble burning. I went to attend a programme in Ludhiana last year. On my way back, my throat choked due to the smoke from stubble burning even when I was in an air-conditioned car. It is harmful for everyone, including people living there. The Punjab government should ensure there is not much stubble burning this time,” the minister said.

Addressing the nodal officers of the CPCB teams, he said, “You will work for next two months and take note of all activities and complaints. You will inspect all factors. You have the right to file a report on your observations and strict action will be taken.”

He said, “The way corona warriors are appreciated, you (CPCB officials) all are warriors fighting pollution and we highly appreciate you. We will meet after two months.”

The minister said that while on one hand there is stubble burning, on the other there is garbage being burnt by public and “even by karamchaaris”.

“We have to keep a watch on that too,” he said.

Mr Javadekar urged people to avoid congested routes and opt for other routes even if they are longer.

“I appeal to people to not go to already congested areas and take longer routes. Use cycles for nearby work,” he said.

The 50 CPCB teams will make extensive field visits from October 15 to February 28 next year and focus on hot spots where air pollution is aggravated, the environment ministry said.

They will visit Delhi and NCR towns Noida, Ghaziabad, Meerut in Uttar Pradesh; Gurugram, Faridabad, Ballabgarh, Jhajjar, Panipat, Sonepat in Haryana; and Bhiwadi, Alwar, Bharatpur in Rajasthan.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Big Story Coronavirus COVID-19

Climate change spurs doubling of disasters since 2000: UN

Climate change is largely to blame for a near doubling of natural disasters in the past 20 years, the United Nations said on Monday.

The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said 7,348 major disaster events had occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion.

The figure far outstrips the 4,212 major natural disasters recorded between 1980 and 1999, the UN office said in a new report entitled “The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019”.

The sharp increase was largely attributable to a rise in climate-related disasters, including extreme weather events like floods, drought and storms, the report said.

Extreme heat is proving especially deadly.

“We are wilfully destructive,” UNDRR chief Mami Mizutori told reporters in a virtual briefing. “That is the only conclusion one can come to when reviewing disaster events over the last 20 years.”

She accused governments of not doing enough to prevent climate hazards and called for better preparation for looming disasters.

‘Uphill battle’

“The odds are being stacked against us when we fail to act on science and early warnings to invest in prevention, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction,” she said.

The report did not touch on biological hazards and disease-related disasters like the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed over one million people and infected over 37 million in the past nine months.

But Mizutori suggested coronavirus was “the latest proof that political and business leaders are yet to tune in to the world around them”.

Monday’s report showed 6,681 climate-linked events had been recorded since the turn of the century, up from 3,656 during the previous 20-year-period.

While major floods had more than doubled to 3,254, there had been 2,034 major storms up from 1,457 in the prior period.

Mizutori said public health authorities and rescue workers were “fighting an uphill battle against an ever-rising tide of extreme weather events”.

While better preparedness and early warning systems had helped bring down the number of deaths in many natural disaster settings, she warned that “more people are being affected by the expanding climate emergency”.

Deadliest disaster

Monday’s report relied on statistics from the Emergency Events Database, which records all disasters that kill 10 or more people, affect 100 or more people or result in a state of emergency declaration.

The data showed that Asia has suffered the highest number of disasters in the past 20 years with 3,068 such events, followed by the Americas with 1,756 and Africa with 1,192.

In terms of affected countries, China topped the list with 577 events followed by the United States with 467.

While a warming climate appeared to be driving the number and severity of such disasters, there had also been an increase in geophysical events like earthquakes and tsunamis that are not related to climate but are particularly deadly.

The deadliest single disaster in the past 20 years was the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, with 226,400 deaths, followed by the Haiti earthquake in 2010, which claimed some 222,000 lives.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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Big Story Delhi

Environment Marshals Will Check Violations Of Pollution Norms: Gopal Rai

No dust control measures at construction sites will attract Rs 50 lakh fine, he had said (File)

New Delhi:

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday said the government will soon deploy environment marshals to help curb violations of anti-pollution norms, including the burning of waste.

The minister also said common people, private and government agencies that have undertaken construction works should adopt adequate measures to prevent dust pollution, else “strict action will be taken against them”.

“We will soon be deploying environment marshals to keep an eye on the violations of environment norms,” Mr Rai told a press conference.

The government has been taking action against demolition and construction sites larger than 20,000 square meters which have flouted dust control norms despite several warnings, the minister said.

“However, during an inspection, I noticed that smaller sites have also been brazenly flouting all dust control norms,” he said.

“I want to appeal to all people, private and government agencies to take dust prevention measures while undertaking construction work. If you don’t do it, the government will be forced to take strict against you,” the minister said.

Mr Rai had on Sunday issued directions to impose a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC) for not taking dust-control measures at a construction site near Vikas Sadan here.

On Saturday, the Delhi government imposed a fine of Rs 20 lakh on the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) for dust pollution at a demolition site on Tansen Marg.

It is mandatory to install anti-smog guns at construction and demolition sites larger than 20,000 square meters, according to government guidelines.

The minister also informed that nine deputy commissioners of municipal bodies have been appointed as nodal officers to keep an eye on the situation at the 13 pollution hotspots.

The environment department has set up 14 inspection teams to check violations of pollution norms.

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Big Story

World bank still investing billions in fossil fuels, study shows

The World Bank Group has continued to invest in fossil fuels despite pledging to fight climate change, according to German environmental lobby group Urgewald, which cited over $2 billion spent on projects in the past two years.

The bank has spent more than $12 billion on such projects since the Paris Agreement to combat global warming was adopted in 2015, about the same amount it spent on fossil fuels from 2014 to 2018, a study by Urgewald showed. The data, which Urgewald updates annually, was compiled from World Bank data and by contacting projects, companies and governments that received the funds.

Urgewald’s latest tally of World Bank spending on fossil fuels showed that the majority of the money invested over the last five years — $10.5 billion — was new direct project financing, including new loans, guarantees, and equity.

The World Bank said in a statement that it stopped financing upstream investments in oil and gas in 2019, but continues to assist “resource-dependent developing countries” with “advice on energy solutions that are economically viable.”

“Reliable energy services are key to preventing and fighting Covid-19,” it said. “We are working with governments, the private sector, and other partners to re-purpose and accelerate energy operations to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to hospitals and other critical health facilities.”

Financial institutions around the world are focusing on supporting renewable energy projects in order to cut carbon emissions and slow global warming. Researchers from the United Nations Environment Program have found that the world is currently on its way to exploiting 120% more fossil fuels by 2030 than is compatible with the Paris goal of keeping the average increase in global temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The Urgewald study was released ahead of the World Bank’s 2020 Annual Meetings beginning Monday. The bank has said that without urgent measures to mitigate the effects of global warming, climate change will drive more than 100 million people into poverty by 2030. But the institution is “a big part of the problem,” Urgewald said in a statement.

“The new report with updated data show that the bank hasn’t reduced its support for fossil fuels,” said Heike Mainhardt, senior adviser for multilateral development banks at Urgewald. “They have promised to help countries to make the energy transition, but what they are really doing is helping the expansion of fossil fuels.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.)

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Headline USA

Ozone layer: why the hole in Antarctica is the largest in the last decade | The NY Journal

Sometimes nature also collaborates to damage this protective layer of the Earth

The hole in the ozone layer is in the news again this year and not because it is shrinking.

The hole, which is located over Antarctica, grew in the last two months to its “maximum size” in the last decade.

That’s just a year after researchers reported it was at its lowest level since its discovery in mid-1985.

And it is not only that the hole is the largest on record, but it is also the deepest in recent years, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported in a recent statement.

The ozone hole of this 2020 grew rapidly since mid-August and reached a maximum of around 24 million square kilometers in early October.

This length is above the average for the last 10 years and spans most of the Antarctic continent.

What is the ozone layer?

Ozone is a colorless gas that forms a thin layer in the atmosphere and absorbs harmful components of sunlight, known as “ultraviolet B” or “UV-B”, protecting humans from the risks of skin cancer or cataracts, among other diseases.

But in the last hundred years, human activity caused the ozone layer to begin to deteriorate.

Sherwood Rowland

Getty Images
Sherwood Rowland was the first to suspect in 1974 that the ozone layer that protects the Earth was running out due to man-made chemicals. This earned him the Nobel Prize.

That is why, some 35 years ago when it was discovered that it had a very large hole at the South Pole, world alarms were raised.

In 1987, the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer, reducing the production and commercialization of various substances that damaged it.

Specifically by molecules containing chlorine and bromine that come from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

These gases were found in just about everything from hair sprays to refrigerators to air conditioning units and were banned in 2006.

Why is it increasing in size?

The WMO Global Atmosphere Observing program with the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service of the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), NASA, the Canadian Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and other partners , are in charge of monitoring the Earth’s ozone layer and warned that the 2020 hole seems to have reached its maximum extension.

“There is great variability in the extent to which ozone hole events unfold each year,” described Vincent-Henri Peuch, director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service at ECMWF.

“The ozone hole of 2020 looks like the one in 2018, which was also a pretty big hole, and definitely is among the largest in the last fifteen years or soHe added in a press release.

The specialist explained that “after the unusually small and short-lived ozone hole in 2019, which was driven by special weather conditions, we are registering a fairly large one again this year, which confirms that we must continue to apply the Montreal Protocol that prohibits the emissions of chemical substances that deplete the ozone layer ”.

But the big gap this year would not be boosted by the gases that pollute but by climatic issues.

The ozone hole is powered by a polar vortex, which is a large-scale, strong and stable persistent cyclone, which kept the temperature of the ozone layer over Antarctica consistently cool for the past few months.

Ozone depletion is directly related to the temperature in the stratosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere between about 10 km and about 50 km in altitude.

This is because polar stratospheric clouds, which play an important role in the chemical destruction of ozone, only form at temperatures below -78 ° C.

Sun and clouds.

Getty Images
The ozone layer protects the Earth and humans from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

These polar stratospheric clouds contain ice crystals which can convert non-reactive compounds into reactive ones, which can then rapidly destroy ozone as soon as the sunlight available to start chemical reactions.

This dependence on polar stratospheric clouds and solar radiation is the main reason why the ozone hole is only seen in late winter or early spring, explains the WMO.

What is expected?

Despite the fact that this year the hole in the ozone layer is bigger than ever due to weather conditions, the scientific community is optimistic in the future about the emission of gases that damage this protection of the Earth.

“The total concentration of gases that deplete the ozone layer in the atmosphere continues to decline, and that is what we hope for with the continued general adherence to the Montreal Protocol ”, Stephen Montzka, a chemical researcher at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, for its acronym in English) tells BBC Mundo. .

And he adds that “this is true despite relatively small increases in emissions of CFC-11,” a compound used as a thermal insulator.

So, “we hope that the ozone layer recovers towards the middle or end of the century“, Says optimistically.

However, until this happens, the health of the UV protective layer also depends on weather conditions, “Specifically from the cold it is in the stratosphere during spring from one year to another,” adds the expert.

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