Climate, Health and Equity Brief
India, Florida, and Madrid
December 6, 2019
Hot Topic: Madrid. More than 25,000 people from 200 countries descended on Madrid this week to attend the (COP25) conference, the annual meeting at which UN officials assess progress toward international climate goals. Despite action by many countries, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, and experts say emissions need to fall by 7.6% every year of the next decade to stave off the worst impacts of a warming planet. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this week’s meeting marks a “point of no return” in humanity’s fight against climate change.
Unfortunately, headlines continue to show that climate change is already wreaking havoc around the globe. In India, epic rainfall and floods have killed 1600 people in some parts of the country, while extended droughts have decimated crops and livelihoods in others. Streets in Key Largo, Florida have been flooded for nearly three months as a result of high tides, leaving residents struggling with issues ranging from rusting cars to health ailments associated with the proximity to stagnant water. And a new Oxfam study found that increasingly common disasters like these have forced 20 million people a year to leave their homes in the past decade—equivalent to one every two seconds.
It is undeniable that action by the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters—China and the U.S.—will be critical to reaching global climate goals. Despite the Trump Administration’s continued refusal to act, Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew to Madrid this week to reassure world leaders that the U.S. is still in the fight, and that Congress has an iron-clad commitment to taking action on the climate crisis. It is hard to overstate the importance of the 2020 U.S. election to super-charging the potential impact of that commitment.
—Matt & Traci, GMMB
Rising sea levels have produced a record-setting three months of flooding in Key Largo, Florida, leaving neighborhood streets submerged in smelly, stagnant water and impacting the health of hundreds of residents. (The New York Times)
Less than one percent of international climate action funding goes to the health sector despite more than 7 million deaths being attributed to air pollution annually, according to a new study. (Reuters)
Climate change is altering monsoon season in India, making both seasonal rains and droughts more intense and less predictable, while government policies are leaving millions, especially the poor, defenseless. (The New York Times)
A new study has found that people are now three times more likely to be displaced by intensifying weather events and wildfires than by violent conflicts, and those in the world’s poorest countries face the highest risk. (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
Angola, which only contributes 0.1 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, is facing economic and health risks as vital fisheries threatened by heating water are steadily losing oxygen supply. (The Washington Post)
Politics & Economy
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the U.S. Congress will continue to support global efforts to curb climate change despite the actions of the Trump Administration. (Our Daily Planet)
A new survey finds that 89 percent of voters, including those from key battleground states, support tax incentives for clean energy and view them as a tool for economic and public health benefits. (PR Newswire)
Despite portraying themselves as leaders in corporate sustainability, many cloud computing companies are helping oil companies use cutting-edge technology to extract more oil. (Logic)
The U.K.’s Labour Party Shadow Chancellor has proposed a new initiative that will remove companies from the London Stock Exchange if they fail to act on climate change. (Independent)
World War Zero, a new bipartisan coalition of prominent and celebrities, has pledged to hold more than 10 million climate conversations in 2020 with Americans across the political spectrum and mobilize an army of people to demand action on climate change. (The New York Times)
Popular musical artists, including Coldplay, the Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, and Adele, have vowed to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions from their tours. (The Washington Post)
“Congress’s commitment to action on the climate crisis is iron-clad. This is a matter of public health, of clean air, of clean water, of our children, of the survival of our economies, of the prosperity of the world, of national security, justice, and equality.”
– Speaker Nancy Pelosi
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