b.c. climate news: world racing past warming limit as carbon emissions rise, says un | ubc delegate to cop28 witnesses climate displacement in bangladesh

here's your weekly roundup of local and international climate change news for the week of nov. 20 to nov. 26, 2023.

weekly roundup of climate change news to nov. 26
crabeater seals on ice floe, antarctic peninsula, antarctica
here’s all the latest news concerning the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and the steps leaders are taking to address these issues.

in climate news this week:

• un report says world is racing to well past warming limit as carbon emissions rise instead of plunge
• ubc delegate to cop28 witnesses climate displacement in bangladesh
• email shows b.c. energy minister wants ‘big and shiny affordability measure’ linked to climate plan
• b.c. opposition parties vow to scrap ndp climate plan, which environmentalists and ndp call dangerous

since the 1800s, human activities have been the main driver of climate change, mainly because of burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, which produces heat-trapping gases. the un’s intergovernmental panel on climate change has warned for decades that wildfires and severe weather, such as b.c.’s deadly heat dome and catastrophic flooding in 2021, would become more frequent and more intense because of the climate emergency.
the panel has issued a “code red” for humanity and last year it said the window to stop global warming from exceeding 1.5 c was closing. in april 2022, it released a report with solutions for how to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, mainly by transitioning away from fossil fuels.

research shows that the warmer, drier conditions are leading to increased drought, which exacerbates the  wildfire  situation. whether the cause is human or lightning, many of the planet’s tinder-dry forests are igniting earlier in the season because of global heating.



check back here each saturday for more climate and environmental news or sign up for our new climate connected newsletter here.

climate change quick facts:

  • the earth is now about 1.2 c warmer than it was in the 1800s.
  • globally, 2022 was the fifth hottest year on record, while 2016 was the hottest.
  • human activities have raised atmospheric concentrations of co2 by nearly 49 per cent above pre-industrial levels starting in 1850.
  • the world is not on track to meet the paris agreement target to keep global temperature from exceeding 1.5 c above pre-industrial levels, the upper limit to avoid the worst fallout from climate change.
  • on the current path of carbon dioxide emissions, the temperature could increase by as much as 4.4 c by the end of the century.
  • in april, 2022 greenhouse gas concentrations reached record new highs and show no sign of slowing.
  • emissions must drop 7.6 per cent per year from 2020 to 2030 to keep temperatures from exceeding 1.5 c and 2.7 per cent per year to stay below 2 c.
  • 97 per ent of climate scientists agree that the climate is warming and that human beings are the cause.

(source: united nations ipccworld meteorological organizationunepnasa,

 source: nasa
source: nasa

latest news

un report says world is racing to well past warming limit as carbon emissions rise instead of plunge

earth is speeding to 2.5 to 2.9 degrees celsius (4.5 to 5.2 degrees fahrenheit) of global warming since pre-industrial times, set to blow well past the agreed-upon international climate threshold, a united nations report calculated.

to have an even money shot at keeping warming to the 1.5-degree celsius (2.7 degrees fahrenheit) limit adopted by the 2015 paris climate agreement, countries have to slash their emissions by 42% by the end of the decade, said the u.n. environment programme’s emissions gap report issued monday. carbon emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas rose 1.2% last year, the report said.

this year earth got a taste of what’s to come, said the report, which sets the table for international climate talks later this month.

through the end of september, the daily global average temperature exceeded 1.5 degrees celsius above mid-19th century levels on 86 days this year, the report said. but that increased to 127 days because nearly all of the first two weeks of november and all of october reached or exceeded 1.5 degrees, according to the european climate service copernicus. that’s 40% of the days so far this year.

on friday, the globe hit 2 c above pre-industrial levels for the first time in recorded history, according to copernicus deputy director samantha burgess.

read the full story here.

—the associated press

 bashar rahman, a 21-year-old ubc student cycled across his home country of bangladesh this summer to document how climate refugees are living.
bashar rahman, a 21-year-old ubc student cycled across his home country of bangladesh this summer to document how climate refugees are living. bashar rahman / jpg

ubc delegate to cop28 witnesses climate displacement in bangladesh

cycling across bangladesh this summer, university of b.c. student bashar rahman heard heartbreaking tales from climate refugees living in tents after swollen rivers swallowed their homes during the country’s worst flooding on record.

rahman, a fourth-year economics student, is one of nine ubc delegates attending the cop28 climate summit, which begins in dubai nov. 30.

the 21-year-old came to vancouver from dhaka, the capital of bangladesh, to study at university. while on a break from ubc this summer, he travelled home to ride his bike across the country and film how residents displaced by severe flooding and erosion are living.

for rahman, the situation hits close to home because his mother is a climate refugee.  her childhood home near the river padma is now permanently under the water. she had the means to move to the capital city. however, many other villagers were not as fortunate, he said.

along his 60-day journey, rahman documented how climate refugees are living in makeshift shelters with little food and clean drinking water and no washrooms.

read the full story here.

—tiffany crawford

b.c. opposition parties vow to scrap ndp climate plan, which environmentalists and ndp call dangerous

they may be political rivals, but the leaders of b.c. united and the b.c. conservatives this week released similar climate plans that would roll back the province’s emission-reduction targets, which they say are crippling the province’s economy and its hardworking taxpayers.

environmentalists and one of the architects of the b.c. ndp’s climate plan say those policies are dangerous and ignore the deaths related to catastrophic floods, wildfires and the 2021 heat dome, extreme weather events climate scientists agree are caused by climate change.

b.c. united leader kevin falcon and b.c. conservative leader john rustad laid out their respective climate and energy plans, both of which would scrap the province’s clean b.c. emissions-reduction targets and end subsidies for electric vehicles.

while rustad acknowledged climate change is real, he said it is “not a crisis” or an “existential threat” and it’s not “the most pressing issue facing people today.”

read the full story here.

—katie derosa

fund to compensate developing nations for climate change is unfinished business at cop28

sunil kumar watched helplessly in july as his home and 14 others were washed away by intense monsoon rains lashing the indian himalayas.

“all my life’s work vanished in an instant. starting over feels impossible, especially with my three children relying on me,” said kumar, a waste collector in the village of bhiuli, in the mountainous state of himachal pradesh.

this year’s monsoon season in india was devastating, with local governments estimating 428 deaths and more than $1.42 billion in property damage in the region. but india was just one of many developing nations to suffer from extreme weather made worse or more likely by climate change, caused largely by greenhouse gas emissions that result from the burning of fossil fuels.

tropical storm daniel hammered libya with massive flooding in september, and cyclone freddy battered several african nations early in the year. activists say all three disasters show how poorer nations, which historically have contributed less to climate change because they have emitted fewer planet-warming gases than developed countries, are often hit hardest by the impacts of global warming.

read the full story here.

—the associated press

 josie osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation.
josie osborne, minister of energy, mines and low carbon innovation. darryl dyck / the canadian press

email shows b.c. energy minister wants ‘big and shiny affordability measure’ linked to climate plan

a memo that b.c.’s energy minister mistakenly dropped suggests the b.c. ndp is desperately trying to shore up support for the embattled carbon tax.

the opposition, which released a copy of the email thursday, said it’s evidence the ndp is using the carbon tax as a “political slush fund” for partisan gain, not to address climate change.

the minister, josie osborne, sent an email to herself on nov. 22 at 7:13 a.m. saying premier david eby is “looking for a big and shiny affordability measure for (the next) budget” and that her office is considering returning a portion of the carbon tax to people through a cleanbc rebate on their monthly b.c. hydro bills.

cleanbc is the ndp name for the plan to reduce carbon emissions in b.c.

osborne said she sent the email to herself based on ideas floated by an unnamed adviser. osborne printed off a copy email wednesday and dropped it somewhere in the hallways of the legislature, which she called “her mistake.” it was picked up by a rival b.c. united member.

“it’s not great, but it means that it’s showing people how hard the work is,” she said. she confirmed that handwritten notes on the email are hers.

read the full story here.

—katie derosa

you can also read vaughn palmer’s column on the dropped memo issue here.


a rapidly melting antarctica gets the attention of un chief ahead of cop28 climate talks

on the cusp of the cop28 climate talks, u.n. secretary-general antonio guterres visited frozen but rapidly melting antarctica and said thursday that intense action must be taken at the conference where countries will address their commitments to lowering emissions of planet-warming gases.

“we are witnessing an acceleration that is absolutely devastating,” guterres said about the rate of ice melt in antarctica, which is considered to be a “sleeping giant.”

“the antarctic is waking up, and the world must wake up,” he added.

guterres is on a three-day official visit to antarctica. chilean president gabriel boric joined him for an official visit to chile´s eduardo frei air force base on king george island.

guterres also was scheduled to visit the collins and nelson glaciers by boat.

he described the u.n. climate change conference that begins in dubai next week as an opportunity for nations to “decide the phase-out of fossil fuels in an adequate time frame” to prevent the world from warming 1.5 degrees celsius (2.7 degrees fahrenheit) above pre-industrial temperatures.

read the full story here.

—the associated press

climate change hits women’s health harder. activists want leaders to address it at cop28

manju devi suffered in pain for two months last year as she worked on a farm near delhi, unable to break away from duties that sometimes had her standing for hours in the waist-deep water of a rice paddy, lifting heavy loads in intense heat and spraying pesticides and insecticides. when that pain finally became too much to bear, she was rushed to a hospital.

the doctors’ verdict: devi had suffered a prolapsed uterus and would need a hysterectomy. she hadn’t said a word to her family about her discomfort because of societal taboo over discussing a “women’s illness,” and with two grown children and three grandchildren looking to the 56-year-old widow to help put food on the table, devi had relied on painkillers to stay in the fields.

“i endured excruciating pain for months, scared to speak about it publicly. it shouldn’t take a surgical procedure to make us realize the cost of increasing heat,” she said, surrounded by women who told of undergoing a similar ordeal.

as the annual u.n.-led climate summit known as cop is set to convene later this month in dubai, activists are urging policymakers to respond to climate change’s disproportionate impact on women and girls, especially where poverty makes them more vulnerable.

read the full story here.

—the associated press

 a baboon is stranded in a tree during a cyclone in mozambique. photo: alex philips/ ubc handout
a baboon is stranded in a tree during a cyclone in mozambique. photo: alex philips/ ubc handout jennifer guyton alex philips / jpg

ubc-involved study identifies mammals with better chance of surviving natural disaster

researchers at the university of b.c. have learned how some mammals cope in disasters like flooding, which may provide a glimpse into which animals will survive climate change-related disasters in future.

the princeton university-led study is the first time that scientists have tracked real-time responses of large mammals to a natural disaster, said kaitlyn gaynor, an assistant professor of zoology and botany at ubc.

cyclone idai, which tore through mozambique’s gorongosa national park in the spring of 2019, was the deadliest storm in africa’s history. many animals in the park died but some larger mammals survived.

princeton researchers collaborated with scientists from around the world to document the animals using trail cameras — provided by ubc — and animal-tracking devices so researchers watched live how the storm affected the animals.

the study was published this week in the journal nature.

read the full story here.

—tiffany crawford

vaughn palmer: ambitious climate targets too fast, will damage economy, says b.c. business group

the new democrats have been forced to defend their clean b.c. climate plan because of the discovery that the government’s own modelling says it will hurt the economy.

the province’s economic output would take a $28.1 billion hit according to the model, which was keyed to the clean b.c. roadmap for 2030, released earlier this year.

the model didn’t get much attention until it was cited in a report last month from the b.c. business council on the economic implications of the provincial plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 per cent of 2007 levels by 2030.

the new democrats have disputed the analysis, even though the projected $28.1 billion reduction in gross domestic product was derived from the government’s own economic modelling.

leading the ndp effort to discredit the report is george heyman, the cabinet minister for the environment and climate change.

heyman dismissed the report as misleading, unhelpful and just plain wrong. when the opposition cited the findings during question period, heyman accused the other side of practising denialism on climate change.

read the full editorial here.

—vaughn palmer

vietnam’s plan for spending $15.5 billion for its clean energy transition to be announced at cop28

a plan for how vietnam will spend $15.5 billion to transition to cleaner energy has been finalized and will be announced at the cop28 climate conference, which begins in dubai next week.

mark george, the climate counsellor for the british embassy in hanoi, said that after months of coordination with key vietnamese ministries to iron out details of how the money will be used, the final plan was finalized on thursday.

george gave no details of the plan.

the united kingdom is co-chair of a group of nine, rich industrialized nations that have agreed to provide the $15.5 billion to help vietnam end its reliance on dirty coal power and more quickly switch to renewable energy as a part of a just energy transition partnership, or jetp.

“that is a really important milestone,” said george.

george was speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the uk-vietnam joint economic and trade committee centered around opportunities for the two nations after britain officially joined an asia-pacific trade group that includes japan and 10 other nations.

read the full story here.

—the associated press

peru lost more than half of its glacier surface in just over half a century, scientists say

peru has lost more than half of its glacier surface in the last six decades, and 175 glaciers became extinct due to climate change between 2016 and 2020, peruvian scientists from the state agency that studies glaciers said wednesday.

“in 58 years, 56.22% of the glacial coverage recorded in 1962 has been lost,” said mayra mejia, an official with peru’s national institute of research of mountain glaciers and ecosystems, or inaigem.

the factor that causes the greatest impact is the increase in the average global temperature, causing an accelerated retreat of glaciers, especially those in tropical areas, jesus gomez, director of glacier research at inaigem, told the associated press.

the south american country has 1,050 square kilometers (405 square miles) of glacial coverage left, an area representing about 44% of what was recorded in 1962, when the first glacier inventory was carried out.

mejia, an expert in glaciology, said there are some mountain ranges in peru where glaciers have almost disappeared, namely chila, which has lost 99% of its glacial surface since 1962.

read the full story here.

—the associated press

social media

guides and links

b.c. flood: read all our coverage on the fraser valley and beyond

frequently asked questions about climate change: nasa

climate change made b.c. heat wave 150 times more likely, study concludes

b.c.’s heat wave: intense weather event is linked to climate crisis, say scientists

expert: climate change expected to bring longer wildfire seasons and more area burned

covid-19 may have halted massive protests, but youth are taking their fight for the future to the courts

climate displacement a growing concern in b.c. as extreme weather forces residents out of their homes

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