Soils contain between two and three times as much carbon as the atmosphere, but the warmer it gets, the faster it is lost. Soils contain between two and three times as much carbon as the atmosphere, but the warmer it gets, the faster it is lost. Soil is a huge, but little-recognised, carbon storage facility. The world’s soils contain two to three times more carbon than the atmosphere, but as average global temperatures creep up, the rate of decomposition of organic matter also goes up, meaning the amount of carbon released from soils also rises. A new study estimates that an average global temperature increase of 2C – an outcome the Paris climate agreement aims to prevent – would lead to around 230 billion tonnes of carbon being released from the world’s soil. This is the equivalent of more than four times the total admissions from China over the last 100 years, and more than double the emissions of the USA over the same timeframe.
Independent 2nd Nov 2020 read more »
Richard Dixon: Around the world, there were nearly 7,500 of these officially recognised disasters, and they killed more than 1.2 million people, affected four billion and had a direct cost of nearly $3 trillion. One single event – the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – killed more than 220,000 people. Flooding disasters have doubled, storms have become more destructive and the UN predicts heatwaves will increasingly add to the disaster toll in the coming years. The 26th annual UN climate talks should have been starting next week in Glasgow, but the pandemic means we have to wait a whole year before the world’s gaze is turned on our leaders and their multiple failures to act quickly enough. There continues to be plenty of gloomy news and the global response continues to be too slow, but there are also interesting signs of change around the world, including in the most unexpected places. Poland is a country which gets three-quarters of its electricity from coal and has been notorious for blocking action on climate change at the EU level. I was at the UN climate talks in Warsaw in 2013 when the Polish government held a parallel summit on how coal was part of the future. I was at the same talks in Katowice in 2018 and visited the official stand in the conference venue made from coal! But things are changing in a remarkable way. Poland’s largest electricity company, state-controlled PGE, last week said it needs to get out of coal in the next 18 months or it will go bust. Sadly, it doesn’t actually want to stop coal being burnt but it does want to pass the liability of its coal assets to the Polish government. Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter yet ANZ last week became the last of the four big national banks to say it was getting out of funding coal mining, something unthinkable only a few years ago. South Korea has just joined China and Japan in pledging to be net zero by 2050, meaning more than half the world’s nations are now committed to this or similar goals.
Scotsman 3rd Nov 2020 read more »