As European Union scientists confirmed that last month continued a worrying trend of historically high temperatures, U.K. researchers released a study Thursday warning how fossil fuel-driven global heating could lead to catastrophic and rapid ice loss in Antarctica not seen for thousands of years.
The study, published by researchers at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the University of Cambridge in Nature Geoscience, relies on an ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet that is over 2,100 feet long.
“Ensuring freshwater ecosystems are well managed, remain free-flowing with sufficient water, and good water quality is essential to stop species declines… in a climate-resilient world,” one scientist said.
More than 20% of the world’s freshwater fish species are in danger of extinction, according to the first-ever assessment of the category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The assessment was released Monday as part of an update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species published to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28). It found that 3,086 out of 14,898 listed freshwater fish species are at risk of disappearing, and at least 17% of threatened fish species are impacted by the climate crisis.
Climate and environmental justice campaigners on Thursday delivered more than 200,000 petition signatures calling on the Biden administration to reject the Calcasieu Pass 2, or CP2, liquefied natural gas export facility as well as all other planned LNG infrastructure.
Environmental advocates and progressive lawmakers have been increasingly raising the alarm about CP2 and the broader expansion in LNG exports, pointing out that they put both the U.S. climate goals and frontline Gulf Coast communities at risk. CP2, for example, would emit 20 times as many greenhouse gases as the controversial Willow oil drilling project in Alaska.
Internal records leaked by a whistleblower show that Sultan Al Jaber—who is simultaneously serving as CEO of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and president of COP28—used meetings about the upcoming United Nations climate summit to push foreign governments for fossil fuel deals.
The documents, obtained by the Center for Climate Reporting (CCR) and the BBC, include meeting records, briefings, and emails that indicate Al Jaber’s role as CEO of the United Arab Emirates’ state-owned oil company has bled into his responsibilities as president of the critical U.N. climate talks, validating the fears of climate campaigners who opposed his selection to lead the summit that kicks off Thursday in Dubai.
Amid preparations for COP28, the United Nations climate summit kicking off next week, a leading green group warned Tuesday that “hydrogen is big polluters’ latest trick, and we can’t afford to fall for it.”
“Hydrogen is being promoted as a ‘clean’ alternative to the fossil fuels used for domestic heating, transport, and heavy industry,” explains the new Friend of the Earth International (FOEI) paper, Don’t Fall for the Hydrogen Hype, put out ahead of the global clilmate talks. “But it’s expensive to produce, inefficient, and far from a low-carbon solution. In fact, the majority of the global hydrogen supply is made from fossil fuels.”
“The world is failing to get a grip on the climate crisis.”
That’s how United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres began his Tuesday remarks about a new U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) report on nationally determined contributions (NDCs), or countries’ plans to meet the goals of the Paris agreement, including its 1.5°C temperature target.
The UNFCCC analysis “provides yet more evidence that the world remains massively off track to limiting global warming to 1.5°C and avoiding the worst of climate catastrophe,” said Guterres. “As the report shows, global ambition stagnated over the past year and national climate plans are strikingly misaligned with the science.”
“It looks like we’ve lost control of melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet,” said one author. “The bright side is that by recognizing this situation in advance, the world will have more time to adapt to the sea-level rise that’s coming.”
Even if humanity dramatically reduces planet-heating pollution from fossil fuels, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet faces an “unavoidable” increase in melting for the rest of this century, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is the continent’s largest contributor to rising seas and contains enough ice to increase the global mean sea level by over 17 feet, the study explains. Enhanced melting of ice shelves, “the floating extensions of the ice sheet, has reduced their buttressing and caused upstream glaciers to accelerate their flow” toward the Southern Ocean. Ice shelf melting could “cause irreversible retreat” of the glaciers.
Following a May of record ocean temperatures and a June of record air temperatures, scientists are warning that 2023 could be the hottest year on record.
For a brief period in June, average global air temperatures even topped 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, the temperature goal enshrined by the Paris climate agreement.
“The world has just experienced its warmest early June on record, following a month of May that was less than 0.1°C cooler than the warmest May on record,” the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) Deputy Director Samantha Burgess said in a statement. “Monitoring our climate is more important than ever to determine how often and for how long global temperatures are exceeding 1.5°C. Every single fraction of a degree matters to avoid even more severe consequences of the climate crisis.”