Top climate stories of this week: New Zealand farmers protest cow-burp tax plan, Brazil’s Amazon faces a severe drought, and more

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Top climate stories of this week: New Zealand farmers protest cow-burp tax plan, Brazil’s Amazon faces a severe drought, and more
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Here are the top 5 climate-related stories of this week.

New Zealand farmers hit streets to protest cow-burp tax plan

Farmers across New Zealand took to the streets on their tractors Thursday to protest government plans to tax cow burps and other greenhouse gas emissions, although the rallies were smaller than many had expected.

Lobby group Groundswell New Zealand helped organize more than 50 protests in towns and cities across the country, the biggest involving a few dozen vehicles. Last week, the government proposed a new farm levy as part of a plan to tackle climate change. The government said it would be a world first, and that farmers should be able to recoup the cost by charging more for climate-friendly products. (Read more)

Months after floods, Brazil’s Amazon faces a severe drought

Just months after enduring floods that destroyed crops and submerged entire communities, thousands of families in the Brazilian Amazon are now dealing with severe drought that, at least in some areas, is the worst in decades. The low level of the Amazon River, at the center of the largest drainage system in the world, has put dozens of municipalities under alert.

Houseboats sit amid drought-impacted land near the Solimões River, in Tefe, Amazonas state, Brazil, Oct. 19, 2022. (AP)

The fast-decreasing river water level is due to lower-than-expected rainfall during August and September, according to Luna Gripp, a geosciences researcher who monitors the western Amazon’s river levels for the Brazilian Geological Survey. As most of Amazonas state is not connected by roads, the main concern is the shortage of food, fuel and other goods normally transported through waterways. (AP)

German leader warns against ‘worldwide renaissance’ for coal 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Russia’s war in Ukraine mustn’t lead to a “worldwide renaissance” for coal — comments that come as Germany itself brings coal-fired power plants back online in an effort to prevent an energy crunch this winter.

In a speech to parliament, Scholz highlighted his government’s efforts to counter the effects of Russia’s decision to cut off gas supplies to Germany. The government has in recent months approved reactivating several coal- and oil-fired power plants, and environmental activists warn that Germany risks defaulting on its climate goals by burning more fossil fuels. (AP)

CO2 emissions rise in 2022, but more slowly, says energy agency

The International Energy Agency said that it expects carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to rise again this year, but by much less than in 2021 due to the growth in renewable power and electric cars.

Last year saw a strong rebound in carbon dioxide emissions — the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming — after the global economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

The Paris-based IEA said CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are on course to rise by almost 1% in 2022 compared to the previous year. That’s nearly 300 million metric tons of CO2 more than in 2021, when the burning of gas, oil and coal released about 33.5 billion tons of CO2. (AP)

Some risks too big: Insurers withdraw from fossil projects 

Insurance companies that have long said they’ll cover anything, at the right price, are increasingly ruling out fossil fuel projects because of climate change — to cheers from environmental campaigners.

More than a dozen groups that track what policies insurers have on high-emissions activities say the industry is turning its back on oil, gas and coal.

The alliance, Insure Our Future, said Wednesday that 62% of reinsurance companies — which help other insurers spread their risks — have plans to stop covering coal projects, while 38% are now excluding some oil and natural gas projects.

In part, investors are demanding it. But insurers have also begun to make the link between fossil fuel infrastructure, such as mines and pipelines, and the impact that greenhouse gas emissions are having on other parts of their business. (AP)





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