The week in climate change: Five things we learnt

By Tierney Smith

It has been another eventful week for climate change news, with stories ranging from biodiversity to fossil fuel subsidies. As RTCC takes a look back over the week’s stories the biggest question in the newsroom is, who is set to take the lead on climate action?

1) Tackling biodiversity is vital but expensive

Greenpeace activists get their message across in Gladstone Harbour. (©Greenpeace Australia Pacific)

Saving biodiversity will cost $330 billion a year for the next eight years, according to UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Chief Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias. This should not be a reason to shy away from the challenge though, as he warned that ignoring the problem would cost even more.

And on the ground, campaign groups including Greenpeace stepped up their fight to protect the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, as a UNESCO environmental team begun their assessment on impacts to the reef from coal and gas expansion in the region.

The reef is rich in biodiversity including 1500 fish species, 4000 mollusc species and 400 different types of coral.

2) Young people have key role to play in climate action

This week Daisy Haywood from the Cambridge Climate and Sustainability Forum and Energise Cambridge wrote for RTCC about the role the young have in building a sustainable future.

“Climate change is the ultimate challenge of the 1.8 billion young people living in the world today. It will not only shape our lives and the choices we have available to us, but will also determine our place in history,” she wrote.

She also wrote about the work still needed to engage the wider youth in the country. With this in mind, this week RTCC launched its own Student Project aimed at showcasing some of the brilliant work by youth groups up and down the country.

3) London could go green – with the right candidate

This week, our website has been host to the candidates standing in the London Elections in May, as they each argue why they would make the greenest choice for Londoners.

Whether drastic emissions or waste reduction targets for 2030, more open and green spaces, making the city safer for cyclists, or creating an energy co-op, each of the candidates has big ideas about the Capital’s environmental credentials.

Who will triumph in the election and what they will deliver is yet to be seen, but the proposals do open our eyes up to the potential for the city, and for many other cities worldwide.

Leadership comes in unlikely shapes

One of the things the fund will aid is the intorduction of drought resistance crops and agricultural techniques for commnunities which depend upon them (© UN Photo/Milton Grant)

Chris Hegarty, a Senior Policy Advisor at Christian Aid wrote for RTCC this week, highlighting an unlikely climate leader; Scotland.

Following the first ever parliamentary debate on Climate Justice held in the country last week, the Scottish Parliament announced a new Climate Justice Fund, for the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Although small, Hegarty said the fund made an important point.They underline the fact that climate change IS an issue of justice – historical, international, and inter-generational,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, ahead of Climate Week next week, RTCC caught up with CEO of the event, Kevin Steele  who said leadership was the ‘single most important concept’ for the campaign.

Ending fossil fuel subsidies will not be an easy task

Fossil fuel subsidies are once again taking the spot light. Last week, President Obama followed the likes of EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and IEA Economist Fatih Birol, to call for an end to subsidies for fossil fuel companies.

Taking a look at the US’s figures on subsidies this week, however, RTCC’s John Parnell found a complex situation shrouded with ambiguity. For example, he asked, where should biofuels fall on the spectrum, hailed as a sustainable fuel, subsidies for biofuels still fall with big companies like Exxon Mobil, Valero Energy and BP.

And while cuts in the US could stimulate new technology in the developing world could they mean catastrophe.

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