Glada Lahn

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A resident who lives near the riverbank is using the polluted water of Turag River to wash clothes. Gazipur, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Photo by Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images.

France’s new bill targeting the environmental impact of fast fashion, which won unanimous parliamentary approval, would add a surcharge of €5 on any fast fashion item and ban advertising by certain companies. While this sounds high for a tax, cheap clothes carry heavy hidden costs, with negative impacts on health, climate and conflict.

The global trade and production of textiles contributes 6-8 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and creates 92 million tonnes of waste. Like other major export sectors, such as food and mining, fashion is also having an outsized impact on water – largely in water-scarce and climate-vulnerable regions of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mayada Adil, Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, speaks at the opening session of the second Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit in September. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

In the lead-up to the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the outlook for the future of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seemed rather bleak.

Global efforts to achieve these ambitious targets by 2030 had lost momentum, weakened by an unprecedented combination of wars, waves of populist nationalist politics, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 showed that only about 12 per cent of the SDG targets are on track and some 30 per cent of targets had either seen no movement or regressed below the 2015 baseline.

The sheer scale of the gap in financing required to achieve the SDGs, which the OECD estimated at $3.9 trillion in 2020, seemed to deepen the gloom.…  Seguir leyendo »

A fishing boat weighted with rocks lies stationary in the Euphrates river near a pedestrian bridge amidst a heavy dust storm in the city of Nasiriyah in Iraq's southern Dhi Qar province on 23 May 2022. Photo by ASAAD NIAZI/AFP via Getty Images.

12 July 2023 marks the first-ever International Day of Combating Sand and Dust Storms (SDS). The recent United Nations designation is indicative of concern about the growing severity and widespread effects of these hazards.

In 2022, dust storms affected countries from Turkey to Oman, hitting Iraq particularly badly. While orange skies are a natural climatic feature of the region, the severity, frequency and duration of the dust storms in recent years has drawn attention to what is changing.

Dust storms occur in arid and semi-arid environments when winds whip up, suspend and transport loose soil particles. Dust storm particles are less than 0.05 mm in diameter and can be transported thousands of kilometres, distinguishing them from sandstorm particles which are larger and travel, at most, a few kilometres.…  Seguir leyendo »

Walking under an array of potted succulent plants in the Green Zone of the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Loss and Damage fund is a historic moment

Anna Aberg

COP27 will go down in history as the UN climate change conference where the Loss and Damage fund was agreed. After decades of pushing, this is a momentous victory for climate-vulnerable developing countries.

The shift in the conversation – and in the positions of developed countries – since COP26 is remarkable. It is critical parties continue to build on the positive momentum created in Sharm as challenging discussions on how the new loss and damage fund will work – and who will contribute to it financially – ensue.

Tim Benton

Overall COP27 was a hectic, sometimes chaotic, event that advanced some matters but left others trailing behind where they need to be to drive ambition towards the sort of climate action required to keep alive the possibility of restricting climate change within the envelope of the Paris agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Six Aspects of Daily Life Rapidly Changed by COVID-19

When the pandemic struck, many countries were quick to close their borders, turning inward in the scramble to protect lives and livelihoods. Sadly, the crisis has done little to bond nations against this shared, invisible foe – in some cases, blame for the outbreak and rows over responses actually exacerbating geopolitical tensions.

However, some effects of COVID-19 may yet unite us, in the profound ways the disease has impacted almost every part of life across the planet, giving us a rare opportunity to pause and consider how we live. News of an effective vaccine makes the prospect of a ‘return to normality’ more hopeful but have these dramatic accelerations in existing trends already changed how we travel, work, and consume, and the face of our cities for good?…  Seguir leyendo »

G20 leaders projected at the historic site of al-Tarif on the outskirts of Riyadh ahead of the G20 virtual summit in Saudi Arabia in November 2020. Photo: Getty Images.

The leaders of the G20 have endorsed the concept of the ‘circular carbon economy’ (CCE) as a way to promote economic growth and manage emissions in all sectors.

Championed by Saudi Arabia under its presidency of the G20, the CCE is framed as an extension of the circular economy and adds a new category – remove – to the established principles of reduce, reuse, recycle (the 3Rs) referring to removing carbon dioxide (CO2) both at the combustion stage and directly from the atmosphere.

Removed from reality?

The CCE purports to include a wide range of technologies, but at its heart, the CCE agenda is a renewed push for technologies to remove and store CO2, and to turn that stored CO2 into value-added products.…  Seguir leyendo »

Punting in the marshes south of the Iraqi city of Ammarah. Photo by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/Getty Images.

Historically, Iraq lay claim to one of the most abundant water supplies in the Middle East. But the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers has reduced by up to 40% since the 1970s, due in part to the actions of neighbouring countries, in particular Turkey, upstream.

Rising temperatures and reduced rainfall due to climate change are also negatively impacting Iraq’s water reserves. Evaporation from dams and reservoirs is estimated to lose the country up to 8 billion cubic metres of water every year.

A threat to peace and stability

Shortages have dried up previously fertile land, increasing poverty in agricultural areas.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man serves customers at a shop in Nyahbiheke Refugee Camp, Rwanda. Energy access makes it possible for refugees to power and run businesses. Photo: Practical Action.

Mass human displacement crises like those in Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and Myanmar do not dissipate within a year or two. The average age of a refugee camp globally is 18 and counting.

Meanwhile, the pressures on resources and services in neighbouring countries absorbing an influx of vulnerable people can be harsh. Imagine the overstressed schools and hospitals where intake has doubled in areas of Jordan and Lebanon, and the damage to ecosystems and elephant habitats where camps have sprung up in Bangladesh.

The fallout from such crises is prompting new ways of working in the international humanitarian system. These recognize that short-term, emergency responses can jeopardize national development goals if maintained indefinitely.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man collects dead fish from a reservoir at a fish farm north of Basra in August. Photo: Getty Images.

In August, frustrations over crippled public services, drought and unemployment in Al-Basra governorate boiled over. The acute cause was a water contamination crisis. By the end of October, hospital admissions of those suffering from poisoning exceeded 100,000 according to health officials. Crops and animals in the rural areas have been severely affected by lack of water and current levels of salinity, with thousands migrating to Basra city.

The unrest continues, stoked by local and regional tensions, and even threatens the export of oil from Iraq’s only deep water port, Umm Qasr. But the crisis of water governance that triggered it endangers more than oil, and will exacerbate problems of child health, migration and interstate conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sun setting behind a power station in Dublin, Ireland. Photo: Getty Images.

Ireland currently has an €8 billon national investment fund with an estimated €300 million invested in fossil fuel shares. Under the bill, the government will be required to sell its investments in fossil fuels. How significant is this in terms of Ireland’s stocks and shares in non-renewable energy?

This decision relates to Ireland’s national investment fund which has specific objectives like making investments that have a positive economic impact. The new bill is the result of civil society and multi-party support for the idea that the investments in fossil fuels are in conflict with Ireland’s commitment to the 2015 Paris climate change agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Obelisk at the centre of the Place de la Concorde is lit by the color of the One Planet Summit held in Paris, December 2017. Photo by Julien Mattia/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

At the One Planet Summit in Paris last week, the World Bank Group announced that, from 2019, it will no longer finance upstream oil and gas. This reflects the Bank’s decision to realign its development assistance with climate commitments. But how does this square with the priorities of those countries that want to use their fossil fuels to drive economic growth and improve access to energy? And can it meaningfully affect CO2 emissions, when alternative sources of investment and assistance are still available for oil and gas development?

Between 2000 and 2015, around $4.8 billion of official development assistance went to upstream oil and gas development, and $22.2 billion to (often-linked) thermal power generation.…  Seguir leyendo »

The well-built, sanitized housing at Pipka camp illustrates how a more humane approach to providing shelter for refugees can challenge established preconceptions. Photo: Chatham House.

While receding from the headlines over the last two years, the human and political costs of the refugee crisis in Greece have only risen. This summer, thousands of people in Chios and Samos island encampments remain exposed to disease, violence, mental deterioration as well as searing heat. Athens is suffering from growing homelessness, abuse and trafficking problems as people’s asylum or relocation claims are rejected or they avoid registration in fear of deportation to Turkey. Charities working on the ground including Medecins sans Frontieres refer to conditions as ‘dire’ and ‘inhumane’.

Yet the humanitarian response in Greece beginning in 2015 is considered one of the most expensive in history.…  Seguir leyendo »