Climate news can be some of the worst when it comes to doom-scrolling and news fatigue. Every day, there are a host of stories coming out about it. Personally, I am often torn between trying to stay up to date with the crisis and avoiding becoming too drained by reading everything out there (which nobody has time for anyway).
That is where this column comes in: delivering a selection of climate stories with a global perspective. This is clearly (by design) a tiny fraction of the news out there, but please reach out if there is something you feel is worth including. My aim is to cover at least one piece of positive news – because not all news is bad news, even if that is all that makes the headlines.
Today, we are covering the response to Sunak’s green U-turn, the UN’s buildup to COP28, the Biden Administration’s energy plans and more…
In the UK, Sunak’s green rollback may swing Tory voters.
A poll conducted by Opinium last month has shown that Sunak’s repealing of key climate goals, such as pushing back the ban on new petrol and diesel cars to 2035, may drive Tory voters to change their vote in the next election.
The poll suggests that over a third of the 2019 voters who were surveyed plan to vote for a different party in the next general election, which is due by January 2025 at the latest.
This is potentially good news on two counts: first, it shows that voters continue to prioritise the climate when making voter decisions; second, it could push the major parties to further prioritise their climate agendas in the next election.
Over at the UN, experts urge countries to meet more ambitious climate targets.
A pre-COP28 report from the UN has found that countries are still a long way from meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The ‘global stocktake’ sets out clear targets for governments to direct their policy toward, and notes that if we wish to limit global heating to 1.5C, urgent and decisive action is needed.
This comes amid concerns that the UAE, where COP28 is set to be hosted in November, will not push for ambitious plans to phase out fossil fuels–or whether the discussion of phasing out fossil fuels will even make the agenda.
In the US, Biden is planning to sell three oil and gas leases over the next five years.
The Biden administration announced plans at the end of September to sell up to three oil or gas leases, all in the Gulf of Mexico, over the next five years. This is the lowest number of leases to be sold since the beginning of the programme in 1980, and includes no sales in Alaska. The administration is framing the programme as a climate conscious proposal.
But this is not entirely true: the proposal will increase the production of oil, something that the US is on track to reach an all-time high in. Many climate advisories, such as the International Energy Agency, have stated that we cannot start developing any new oil or gas fields if the world wishes to stay within safe limits of global heating.
And some good news: the rate of deforestation is falling in the Amazon.
Data from Brazil’s INPE (national space research agency) has shown that deforestation has fallen in the Brazilian Amazon by 57% compared to September of 2022.
This is following the current President Lula de Silva’s push to end illegal deforestation, which soared under Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency.
Brazil’s Environment Minister also announced a push for more ambitious climate targets at the UN Summit last month, hoping to protect the world’s largest tropical rainforest.
That wraps up this week’s The Green Piece. As with all climate news, there is lots to be angry and concerned about–but it is not all bad. If you want to get involved, remember there are a lot of green societies around Oxford that are always looking for new members.
The column will be back next week. Until then–that’s what you missed on the climate crisis.
If you are keen to read more about any of these stories, check out the following links: