Climate Weekly: Sweden pushes climate security agenda

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A refugee camp in Aleppo, Syria: climate stresses can be linked to conflict (Flickr/IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation)

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For the first time in seven years, the UN security council had a session dedicated to climate change this week.

The influential body has highlighted the role of drought and desertification in fuelling instability for specific regions, namely Somalia, West Africa and the Sahel.

This discussion, led by Sweden’s Margot Wallström and Nigerian UN deputy chief Amina Mohammed, called for a more systematic approach to climate security.

Quote of the week

“Fragile countries are in danger of becoming stuck in a cycle of conflict and climate disaster” – Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary general of the UN

Brexit fudge

The UK government has released its most detailed plan for Brexit yet – and it’s still pretty vague on climate and energy.

In the white paper, it “recognises… the mutual benefits of a broad agreement on climate change cooperation” and suggests Britain could stay in the internal energy market – but does not want to be bound by its environmental rules.

Several members of cabinet resigned over the package, saying it ceded too much to Brussels, leaving PM Teresa May in a tough spot.

Trump balloon

On his first official visit to the UK, US president Donald Trump heaped further humiliation on May by criticising her Brexit plan in an interview with the Sun newspaper. He later tried to backtrack.

Trump’s wrecking ball approach to diplomacy was met by an equally rude public reaction. Tens of thousands were expected at a London march on Friday afternoon, objecting to – among other things – Trump’s climate stance.

There were several climate activists involved in launching a giant inflated baby Trump caricature over Westminster, Soila Apparicio reports.

Climate conversations

Water extremes

The science is in: Cape Town’s “Day Zero” drought was made three times more likely by climate change. The World Weather Attribution service warned that many cities were at increased risk of water scarcity – and should not wait for reservoirs to dry up before taking action.

Meanwhile, Japan is reeling from its worst weather disaster in 36 years. Torrential rain – and the resulting floods and landslides – killed 200 and made thousands homeless.

It may be time for the country to reconsider its “hardcore love affair with concrete”, suggested ex-Reuters Tokyo correspondent Sophie Knight.

Renewables milestone

German wind, solar, hydro and biogas collectively generated more power than coal in the first half of 2018, Euractiv reports.

Coal still accounted for 35% of the mix and has a long way to fall if the country is to meet its climate goals. An expert commission on phasing out coal was due to meet on Friday.

Meanwhile the European Commission this week launched a consultation on a revised 2050 climate strategy. Green groups are calling on the EU to align with the 1.5C stretch goal of the Paris Agreement.

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Liberia is about to ratify the Paris Agreement, according to an official, leaving 18 countries still to formally join the pact. Colombia also joined the party on Thursday.

The laggards are responsible for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with Russia accounting for half of that. Turkey and Iran are also being slow with the paperwork.

Soila Apparicio has the rundown.

Ireland divests

It may be failing dismally to tackle rising agricultural emissions, but Ireland will likely become the first country to divest from fossil fuels.

Parliament’s lower house passed a bill on Thursday to sell coal, oil, gas and peat stocks from its €8 billion national investment fund “as soon as is practicable”.

It is expected to become law by the end of the year, following approval by the upper house.

Coming up

  • The UN high level political forum on Sustainable Development Goals continues in New York until Wednesday 18 July
  • Sustainable cities network ICLEI holds its World Congress in Montreal 19-23 July

Read more on: Climate Politics