Top Stories

November 24, 2020

Climate Change 

CO2 hits new record despite COVID-19 lockdowns

Climate-heating gases have reached record levels in the atmosphere despite the global lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). There is estimated to have been a cut in emissions of between 4.2-7.5 percent in 2020 due to the shutdown of travel and other activities. But the WMO said this was a “tiny blip” in the continuous build-up of greenhouse gases in the air caused by human activities and represents less than the natural variation seen year to year. The data shows action to cut emissions is currently far from what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate emergency. (The Guardian) 

Climate Change 

John Kerry named as US President-elect Biden’s new climate tsar

Former US presidential candidate John Kerry has been named as President-elect Joe Biden’s special presidential envoy for climate change, a role that will include a seat on the National Security Council (NSC). This marks the first time that the NSC will include an official dedicated to climate change. Kerry helped to bring about the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, which Biden has pledged to rejoin once he takes office in January. Kerry is expected to co-ordinate climate-related efforts across government agencies and seek to maximise what can be achieved without Senate approval. (Recharge News; NBC News) 


UNICEF to ship 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines to poor nations in 2021

Nearly 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be shipped and flown to developing countries next year in a “mammoth operation”, as world leaders vowed to ensure the fair distribution of vaccines. UNICEF has announced that it is working with over 350 airlines and freight companies to deliver vaccines and 1 billion syringes to poor countries as part of COVAX, a global COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan with the World Health Organization (WHO). COVAX, co-led by GAVI vaccine group, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, aims to discourage governments from hoarding COVID-19 vaccines and to focus on first vaccinating the most at risk in every country. (Thomson Reuters Foundation) 

Innovation / Climate Change 

Half of big businesses are using AI to cut their climate impacts, according to Capgemini

Almost half of the world’s biggest industrial, energy, FMCG, retail and manufacturing companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce their emissions, according to analysis from Capgemini’s Research Institute. The research surveyed 800 business executives, finding that 48 percent of respondents said their organisation had implemented AI in recent years, with the aim of reducing emissions, improving resource efficiency or generating more low-carbon power. Across the five sectors, the research found that AI could deliver up to 45 percent of the emissions reductions businesses need to deliver by 2030 if they are to align with the Paris Agreement. The average business is forecasting a 16 percent related emissions reduction by 2025 using AI.  (edie) 


UK companies seen missing sustainability targets due to COVID-19

About two thirds of British companies expect to miss at least one of their sustainability targets as the coronavirus pandemic forces many to focus on staying afloat, according to the Opinium poll of 500 senior business leaders. The survey revealed that seven in 10 executives said their firms had put climate or sustainability initiatives on hold. Furthermore, around two thirds of respondents said the government must commit more funds to green economy initiatives. This comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a climate plan which he said would create and support 250,000 highly skilled green jobs. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)