EDN Week in Review: Environmental News for the Week of June 10

Ending Plastic Pollution

McDonald’s — which uses 1.8 million straws a day! — plans to phase out plastic straws in its British locations by 2019. (Adam Vaughan, Guardian). Also phasing out straws: SeaWorld, Ikea and Royal Caribbean. (Darryl Fears, Washington Post)

Paul Pomroy, the chief executive of McDonald’s UK and Ireland, said: “Reflecting the broader public debate, our customers told us they wanted to see a move on straws but to do so without compromising their overall experience when visiting our restaurants.”

An English woman and her daughter paddled 22 miles to pick up plastic trash and raise awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution. (Anna Turns, Guardian)

Within seconds of setting off from South Sands beach by the mouth of the estuary, we spotted a clear plastic carrier bag floating in the shallows. Marine wildlife could easily have mistaken it for a jellyfish. Ella grabbed it with a litter picker as we paddled past….

Supporting Climate Action and Renewable Energy

India is on course to reach its ambitious renewable energy targets by 2022. (Climate Action)

India has pushed through various measures to promote renewable energy across the country’s 29 states. Its current capacity sits at 69,000 MW, excluding large-scale hydropower. With a high-level of pledged investment and 40,000 MW of projects out to tender, some officials think the real figure could be as high as 227 gigawatts by 2022.

Two new reports examine the economic risks of climate change. (David Roberts, Vox)

At this point, there is a fairly rich literature on the shortcomings of the climate-economic models upon which so much political weight rests….Two recent papers help simplify and summarize that literature. They are addressed to different audiences (one the US, one the international community), but both stress the importance of improving these lagging models before the next round of policymaking…

Another report reveals that the poorest communities are hit hardest by climate impacts. (Dr. Andrew King and Luke Harrington, Carbon Brief)

These effects of climate change are pervasive, so the vast majority of the global population will be impacted in some way as the world warms. However, these impacts will not be felt equally from one country to the next. Our research, published today in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that it will be the poorest nations who will see the biggest shifts in local climate.

Listening to the Latest Climate Science

Antarctica is losing ice three times faster than it was in 2007. (Kendra Pierre-Louis, New York Times)

The rate at which Antarctica is losing ice has tripled since 2007, according to the latest available data. The continent is now melting so fast, scientists say, that it will contribute six inches (15 centimeters) to sea-level rise by 2100. That is at the upper end of what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated Antarctica alone could contribute to sea level rise this century.

A leaked draft by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reveals that global warming is set to exceed the 1.5°C goal set by the Paris agreement, by 2040. (Reuters)

“If emissions continue at their present rate, human-induced warming will exceed 1.5°C by around 2040,” according to the report, which broadly reaffirms findings in an earlier draft in January but is more robust, after 25,000 comments from experts and a wider pool of scientific literature. The Paris climate agreement, adopted by almost 200 nations in 2015, set a goal of limiting warming to “well below” a rise of 2°C above pre-industrial times while “pursuing efforts” for the tougher 1.5° goal.

Fighting to Protect Species on Earth

A new report finds that a fifth of wild mammals in Britain, including wildcats and wild boars, are at high risk of extinction. (Damian Carrington, Guardian)

The main cause is the destruction of wild places by roads, buildings and intensive farming, which combine to reduce and fragment habitat. The impact of invasive species and disease are also important, said Prof Fiona Mathews, at the University of Sussex and chair of The Mammal Society, which produced the new report at the request of the government.