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Climate Change

President Biden to visit Florida as toll from Ian rises to 44

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(Last Updated On: October 2, 2022)

The death toll from Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States, has climbed above 40 as the White House said President Joe Biden will head to Florida later in the week to survey the devastation.

Shocked Florida communities were only just beginning to face the full scale of the destruction on Saturday, with rescuers still searching for survivors in submerged neighbourhoods and along the state’s southwest coast.

Homes, restaurants and businesses were ripped apart when Ian roared ashore as a powerful Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday.

The confirmed number of storm-related deaths rose to 44 statewide, the Florida Medical Examiners Commission said late on Saturday, but reports of additional fatalities were still emerging county by county – pointing to a far higher final toll.

Hard-hit Lee County alone recorded 35 deaths, according to its sheriff, while US media including NBC and CBS tallied more than 70 deaths either directly or indirectly related to the storm.

In the coastal state of North Carolina, the governor’s office confirmed four deaths related to Ian there.

Biden and his wife, Jill, will visit Florida on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted, but the couple will first head to Puerto Rico on Monday to survey the destruction from a different storm, Hurricane Fiona, which struck the US territory last month.

The community, home to about 800 people, was cut off from the mainland following damage to two bridges, and those who fled early were only just beginning to return home to survey the destruction.

More than 900,000 customers remained without power in Florida Saturday night.

More than 45,000 people remained without power across North Carolina and Virginia, tracking website poweroutage.us said Saturday.

As of Saturday morning, Governor Ron DeSantis’s office said more than 1,100 rescues had been made across Florida.

Aerial photos and video show breathtaking destruction in Sanibel and elsewhere.

Climate Change

Prince William meets President Biden in Boston to discuss climate change

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(Last Updated On: December 3, 2022)

Prince William greeted US President Joe Biden at the waterfront in Boston on Friday, part of a three-day visit by British royals trying to focus attention on tackling environmental issues.

William and his wife, Kate, attempted to keep the spotlight on climate and other causes they champion on their first overseas trip since taking on the titles of Prince and Princess of Wales after the death of Queen Elizabeth in September.

In the middle of their US visit, however, Netflix Inc released a trailer for an upcoming documentary series about William’s younger brother, Harry, and his American wife, Meghan, reviving talk about rifts in the royal family. Buckingham Palace also was dealing with a new racism controversy, Reuters reported.

On Friday afternoon, William smiled as he met Biden outdoors in cold weather along Boston’s waterfront. The two men took a brief stroll before a private meeting at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

The pair were expected to discuss “shared climate goals” and “prioritization of mental health issues,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters before the meeting.

Later on Friday, William and Kate were due to honor winners of the Earthshot Prize, an award William established to recognize people working to fight the effects of climate change. Grammy-winning singer Billie Eilish and others were scheduled to perform at the star-studded ceremony.

“We want to demonstrate what we can all do to help put the world on a path towards a stable climate, where communities, nature and oceans thrive in harmony,” William said in an opinion piece published in The Huffington Post on Friday.

Kate and William last visited the United States in 2014, when they were guests of then-President Barack Obama at the White House.

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Climate Change

3.6 billion people face inadequate access to water: WMO

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(Last Updated On: November 30, 2022)

Around 3.6 billion people currently face inadequate access to water for at least one month per year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its State of Global Water Resources 2021 report.

The figure is projected to increase to more than five billion by 2050. The report published on Tuesday, November 29, assesses the effects of climate, environmental and societal change on the Earth’s water resources.

The report shows that due to the influence of climate change and a La Nina event (period cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific), the year 2021 witnessed large areas drier than normal around the world.

According to WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas, though the impacts of climate change are often felt through water — such as more intense and frequent droughts, more extreme flooding, more erratic seasonal rainfall and accelerated melting of glaciers — there is still insufficient understanding of changes in the distribution, quantity and quality of freshwater resources.

The WMO report aims to fill this knowledge gap, which would be helpful in providing universal access in the next five years to early warnings of hazards, such as floods and droughts, he said.

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Climate Change

COP27 reaches breakthrough agreement on new ‘loss and damage’ fund

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(Last Updated On: November 20, 2022)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) closed Sunday with a breakthrough agreement to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters.

“This outcome moves us forward,” said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary. “We have determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage – deliberating over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”

Set against a difficult geopolitical backdrop, COP27 resulted in countries delivering a package of decisions that reaffirmed their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The package also strengthened action by countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, as well as boosting the support of finance, technology and capacity building needed by developing countries.

Creating a specific fund for loss and damage marked an important point of progress, with the issue added to the official agenda and adopted for the first time at COP27, the UN said in a statement.

Governments took the ground-breaking decision to establish new funding arrangements, as well as a dedicated fund, to assist developing countries in responding to loss and damage.

Governments also agreed to establish a ‘transitional committee’ to make recommendations on how to operationalize both the new funding arrangements and the fund at COP28 next year. The first meeting of the transitional committee is expected to take place before the end of March 2023.

Parties also agreed on the institutional arrangements to operationalize the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage, to catalyze technical assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

New pledges, totaling more than $230 million, were made to the Adaptation Fund at COP27. These pledges will help many more vulnerable communities adapt to climate change through concrete adaptation solutions.

COP27 President Sameh Shoukry announced the Sharm el-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, enhancing resilience for people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030.

The cover decision, known as the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, highlights that a global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require investments of at least $4 to $6 trillion a year.

COP27 brought together more than 45,000 participants to share ideas, solutions, and build partnerships and coalitions. Indigenous peoples, local communities, cities and civil society, including youth and children, showcased how they are addressing climate change and shared how it impacts their lives.

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