The Green Piece

Lottie Tellyn relates both the good and the bad in climate news this week.

Your Weekly Climate News Round-up

In this week’s climate news, we’ll be covering wastewater spills, rewilding projects, methane emissions, and the claimants taking the UK government to court over inadequate climate action.

Reports of censored methane emissions at UN farming body

The Guardian has exclusively reported this week that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has censored important information about the hugely damaging contribution of livestock methane emissions. 

FAO originally published figures in 2006 suggesting that livestock emissions contributed around 18% of emissions, but this number was later revised downwards to 14.5% in 2013. It is now reported to stand at around 11.2%. However, the Guardian is reporting that other sources are suggesting emissions make up closer to 20% of the global total emissions, with a 2021 study suggesting that the true figure is between 16.5% and a massive 28.1%.

This is particularly concerning, because FAO data was used extensively in the UN IPCCC’s last report on agriculture.

Anne Mottet, livestock development officer at the FAO, said that “we can’t ignore the main actors of the sector but there has been no particular pressure from them.”

It is expected that the impact of faming on the climate crisis will be a key topic at the upcoming COP summit.

Oil and Gas Companies spill toxic wastewater in Texas, Inside Climate News reports

Millions of gallons of highly saline water, byproducts of oil and gas wells, have been spilled into the waterways of Texas Inside Climate News has exclusively reported this week. This water, known as ‘produced water’, has sent chloride levels skyrocketing.

Unfortunately, ambiguous rules at the Railroad Commission of Texas, the body who regulate oil and gas drilling, mean that there is little accountability to clean up after or protect against this wastewater disposal. The current system relies on self-reporting by offenders, a practice which is largely unreliable.

Inside Climate News produced a public analysis of the spills, finding that from 2013-2022, oil and gas companies have reported over 10,000 spills, adding up to a total of more than 148 million gallons of produced water spills.

This raises concerns for many residents as to the continued availability of fresh, clean water.

UK Government taken to court over inadequate climate action.

Friends of Earth, ClientEarth, and Good Law project (with individual claimants) are set to be heard at a High Court hearing over the government’s revised net zero strategy.

The hearing will be ‘rolled up’, meaning that all three individual cases will be heard at together, but the court is expected to allow each claimant to argue their case in full.

The organisations are taking the government to court on the basis of the revised net zero strategy falling short of the Climate Change Act 2008’s requirements. The Carbon Budget Delivery Plan (CDBP) is the strategy which they claim is falling short, as the country’s economy-wide decarbonisation plan.

Even the governments own advisors, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), have said it is not doing enough.

This is believed to be the first case of its kind to challenge UK climate adaptation plans, also arguing that the plans breach human rights. 

The Good News: UK rewilding restoring populations of local wildlife.

A series of local wildlife restoration projects around the UK are having an impact on the biodiversity crisis facing Britain, where one in six species are in danger of local extinction.

Projects around the country, focussing on local biodiversity, are re-introducing and helping to protect these species, such as the endangered hazel dormouse, and many butterfly species.

Rewilding projects aim to help local habitats to remain or become self-sufficient after the impacts of human activity allowing the land to “do its own thing”. The idea is that, with the appropriate protection, these habitats will once again be able to self-regulate.